When Clio Dances (Version 1.1)
By Adam Santoso
Peru, 10 45 Hours, 18 December 1975
When an alliance of Acción Popular and Integralist guerillas overthrew the American-friendly Peruvian government in 1972, the Third Reich had sent in two Fallschirmjager divisions to ensure that there was ‘peace and stability’ in the country. US President Ronald Reagan had warned them – twice – not to interfere in political matters within the Americas, but the Fuhrer had been very insistent: Remove all your nukes from the Middle East, and we would withdraw from South America. Three years later, and it was still the same.
Instead, even with Nazi-backing, the ARPA guerilla forces had given the government grief from time to time since that year. The obliteration of a military convoy headed out of Callao, the assassination of a few Ejército del Perú officers in Piura… this was all just the tip of the iceberg when it came to Bloody Saturday. Two months ago, ARPA insurgents launched an all-out attack across the country. In the midst of the rebellious bloodletting, a pair of Luftwaffe liaison officers was gunned down while strolling along the San Francisco de Asís Church in Lima.
It gave the Third Reich a reason to vent its military might against a third-world nation in the Americas. This was what Admiral Hans Konigsberg and his fleet of sixteen Kriegsmarine warships were going to do. Sitting just sixteen miles off the Peruvian coast, the battlegroup included two SSBNs fully loaded with nukes and the Reich’s latest nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the Hermann Goering. It was ironic really, given that the name of a Kriegsmarine ship would bear the Luftwaffe’s most famous commander-in chief. The admiral’s grimacing features lightened as he glanced out of the bridge windows. This aircraft carrier was the sign that close cooperation between the two armed services was not out of the question.
The battlegroup consisted of five missile destroyers, four frigates, three landing crafts, two U-Boats and the fleet’s supply ship. That was not counting the Hermann Goering herself. Gazing at one of the He 395s preparing for catapult launch, he silently wondered if there would be war with the United States. In recent weeks, the Americans had moved a large concentration of aircraft and armored vehicles down into Mexico, if the Abwehr intelligence reports were accurate. Deep down inside him, he knew that war with the Amis was something to be avoided, not relished. Their carrier battlegroups were superior to the Kriegsmarine’s recently-adopted concept of Surface Action Battlegroups, and their nuclear arsenal was supposedly beyond belief. Up till now, nobody knew why they had not simply blasted the Third Reich to Stone Age rubble early in the ‘50s and ‘60s when Germany was still playing catch-up with atomics. The admiral waved his thoughts away as the ship’s captain approached him.
"A beautiful craft eh, Herr Konigsberg?" Kapitan zur See Joachim Scholer asked beside him. "The latest out of Gotha Works and it’s a vast improvement from the original Lippsich P11s."
"Ja. How’s your family by the way?"
The Hermann Goering’s captain just smiled. "They’re fine, having just settled in a little farm in Ukraine Ostland just two weeks ago. Contrary to what Signal reports, Madchen wrote in her recent letter."
There were still Russian guerillas running loose in the wilds of the Ostland woods and steppes, constantly staging barbaric assaults against the German settlers and armed forces there. At least that was what Signal had reported, but one can never be too sure. The recent death count was one German and three hundred guerillas, which Admiral Konigsberg knew was bollocks. He had spoken to countless friends –Wehrmacht men – who were stationed there and their stories didn’t match what the newspapers were saying.
Nevertheless, he was smart enough to know that the regime he served did not tolerate any ‘rebellious’ questions by its servants.
"Good to hear that, Scholer," he said.
The roar of twin Jumo 069S turbojets signaled the launch of a He 395 as the catapult pushed it out of the flight deck and allowed the engines to take care of the rest. Patrolling the battlegroup, the admiral thought. Would it be sufficient to deter a missile attack?
Queensland, 07 45 Hours, 18 December 2017
"– And it looks like the final winner for the fourteenth season of the Australian Idol is the same one who won the first: Guy Sebastian. In other international news, longtime rap singer and multi-millionaire Marshall Bruce Mathers, popularly known as Eminem, was arrested for harassing Michael Jackson in –"
Holding a hot cup of Starbucks black coffee in one hand and a newspaper in the other, John Birmingham – Birmo, for short – enjoyed the splendorous view of a smog-ridden sunrise hanging beyond Moreton Bay. Maybe a decade back, it would’ve been much cleaner and visible but the fifty-three year old author wasn’t about to complain anytime soon. It was still safe to breathe in the air hereabouts, unlike in certain areas in the northern hemisphere.
" – the Indonesian Civil War still rages on, with most of the fighting situated in East Timor between government forces and the Militarist-Jihadi rebel alliance. The US/Australian build-up in Northern Australia and Christmas Island goes unabated, except for one or two fruitless attempts at suicide bombings by Islamic terrorists. Prime Minister Stanhope had stated in an earlier press conference last Saturday that a likely date for Coalition forces to plunge into the Indonesian Archipelago would be sometime between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. Hopes are high that this operation would be much more successful than the Iranian fiasco –"
The Toyota’s battery meter beeped incessantly, which was quickly shut off when Birmingham placed his coffee on the adjacent seat and clicked the thing off. It signaled the solar recharge was one hundred percent complete, and he would have the alternative fuel to go all the way to Townsville. It was a tedious thing that wasn’t to his liking but the Military Centre there told him that if he wanted to do research for his next book, he had to come either today or never. The massive influx of US forces had steadily increased over the past two weeks; soldiers wearing BDUs were increasingly common in the streets of Brisbane these days; there were even the rare occasions of spotting a trooper sporting a FW combat suit, though those were usually near areas of military importance. Since that it was reported the ‘Indonesian Offensive’ would occur sometime next week, it made sense that the Military Centre was going to close down to all visitors in preparation for the Big Thing.
Sipping in the last drop of black coffee, he tossed the plastic cup out of his car and drove off, heading down National Highway One and keeping it straight on the road. He passed Gympie, then Gladstone and before he knew it, his Toyota was passing by the Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area in Rockhampton. Columns of Humvees, Stryker IFVs and Bradleys filled the city’s roads, churning dust and smoke as they rumbled across the asphalt terrain. Birmingham even fancied one or two M1A3 Abram tanks, the latest variant of the chobham-armored fighting machine. In next to no time, he was out of the city and traveling along the highway route.
Once or twice, he discovered that the road was pocketed with Humvees and their cheerful American occupants; one guy was even kind enough to point his middle finger at Birmo, to whom he did the same.
The sun was setting in the smog-ridden sky by the time he arrived at the gates of the Townsville Joint Military Centre. A goggles-wearing guard handling an AICW approached his vehicle and asked for his identification pass, which Birmingham promptly showed off with a smile on his face. With a nod, the guard signaled for the gates to be opened and Birmo followed in with his car.
Phew, he thought. That was easy.
Christmas Island, 10 00 Hours, 18 December 2017
When dawn had come over Christmas Island, Staff Sergeant Clinton Wong was still snoring away in his bed bunk. The tropical smell of the day, the chattering of Red-footed Bobbies in the beaches and the roaring din of Lieutenant Christopher Roach calling him to get out of the fucking bed and move your arse at once helped him tore through the veil of sleepiness and roll back into the world of the living to get ready for his company’s daily physical training routine.
Physical training was a bitch, so to speak. For one straight hour, he and the company he served in had to run around the local deserted settlement five times non-stop, followed by another thirty minutes of non-stop pushup and sit-up sequences. The next thirty minutes was spent on running through the dense National Park and back twice.
"Fucking hell, Sir," PFC Abbey Paterson muttered as he bent his shoulders and puffed like a sweaty dog. "That was tough."
The lieutenant just shrugged. "Not as tough as that time we had to do PT in a swamp full of crocs with those NORFORCE folks. That was even tougher, so don’t try complaining."
The private just shut up, and the lieutenant realized his mistake. This guy was one of those fucking newbies; the batch of reserve volunteers recently arrived from Darwin. Still, if a guy like him wants a place under the sun in this regiment, he’ll have to toughen up. They were now having The Break, the period where they could all have breakfast and lounge around like nobody’s business. So Clint went into the base’s canteen, grabbed some eggs and toast and an orange juice to go, and sat down on his mates’ table. Soccer was the main topic of the day, until one guy broke in and asked whether they were really going to invade Indonesia or not. Lieutenant Roach allayed his ‘fears’ by giving him a prep speech littered with vulgarities.
"Of course we fucking are," he said. "Whaddya fucking thinky we’re all doing here, in the middle of fucking nowhere. Crushing land-crabs and barbecuing them? Or watching those fucking seabirds flying around the fucking coasts in a sight-seeing tour?"
That guy was too shame-faced to do anything except mumble an ‘uh, ok’; the other fellows in the mess hall snickered. Staff Sergeant Wong immediately recognized that it was that same private from before. Still, he had to finish his breakfast before he would do anything to help that poor newbie. Just moment before he chewed his last piece of toast, Clint glanced at where the private was sitting and found it empty.
Looks like this will have to wait, he thought as the deafening roar of a patrolling Raptor filled the air.
SS Berliner, 10 55 Hours, 18 December 1975
What no one but Admiral Hans Konigsberg knew was the reason for a civilian ship tagging along with the fleet. Outside of the Third Reich’s armed services, nobody had known that there even was a civilian ship in the midst of all those warships. It was one of the best kept secrets of the Reich, next to the Final Solution and the Atombombe.
Weighing twenty-four thousand and six hundred tons, the SS Berliner – by all accounts – looked like any other sea-going passenger liners of the early Twentieth Century. Without the helo pad near to its stern, one might mistake it to be a replica of the late SS Kronprinz Wilhelm. Alas, said ship was scrapped in 1923 by an American company. In the late ‘60s, AG Vulcan – the company which constructed the Kronprinz Wilhelm – was ordered by the Schutzstaffel to construct a similar ship for state purposes. The furtive reason was simple: a certain Dr. von Braun had developed a revolutionary machine that needed proper testing, but the only place he was certain it would succeed would be if it was carried out at sea. The machine was fitted next to the ship’s engine room, where it was tended by a group of scientists and engineers.
Now, that Dr. von Braun was overseeing a squad of Fallschirmjager troopers lifting a medium-sized crate out of a FW 466 transport helicopter. Symbols in Latin were stamped all over the crate, but they either meant ‘DO NOT TOUCH’ or ‘FRAGILE OBJECT; HANDLE WITH CARE’. It was senseless but with the amount of fools these days, one had to ensure caution to be certain. The leader of the paratroopers approached the doctor with his assault rifle slung back.
"The package as you wanted, Herr Braun," he said. "Straight from our Integralist friends in Cusco."
Dr. von Braun took a step close and stroked its wooden exterior, before he slowly opened the lid and unveiled an Incan idol not seen since the age of Cortez and Montezuma. The statuette shimmered an ethereal hue, giving it a mystical feel that ran von Braun’s imagination wild. He was certain that it belonged to a civilization that existed even before the first Egyptian pyramids were built. The Voynich Manuscript had spoke of its existence, and the Pries Kris map had confirmed its location.
Soon, he thought. Soon, only the Third Reich would be fit to rule this world. With this thing and my Ragnarok Device, how could she fail?
He glanced back at the paratrooper with gleaming fervor. "Take this to the engine room below deck," he ordered. "Make sure that the crate does not drop, or else the Reichsfuhrer would have all your heads for it. The future of the Reich depends on this piece of rock, gentlemen. Make sure you do not fail."
"We won’t fuck it up, Herr Braun," the paratroop commander wolfishly promised.
"Fusion, my boy, fusion. It is the wave of the future."
The dank, dimly-lit room known hereabouts as Engine Room 02 was packed with half-a-dozen engineers and scientists, plus three Fallschirmjager guards. They surrounded a pair of transparent canisters attached on the top of a box-like mechanism that screamed computing machine. The whole thing was powered by a plutonium-derived thermoelectric generator, which was also the main source of power for the entire ship. In many ways, this ship was the culmination of every science the Third Reich had to offer and von Braun knew it. It made his chest swell with pride every time he thought about it.
The Incan idol was placed in one of the canisters; the other contained a greenish rock with a little white-paper label denoting ‘T-268’. At first glance, one might be led to think that the both of them were unrelated. Dr. von Braun knew how false it was, since both were of the same materials. The T-268 was an unknown type of uranium supposedly capable of powering whole continents for decades without end. There were only two places on Earth where such a material exists: deep in the Peruvian interior and the Ural Mountains. The former was the one of two reasons why the experiment was being carried out here, alongside a surface action battlegroup. The other – the doctor had argued – was that if and should the experiment fail, at least it won’t be in the vicinity of the Fatherland. Thus, whatever terrible effects it produced would be spread towards other non-Reich territories.
A young scientist wearing thick goggles was holding sway the monitor console, who von Braun was commenting to.
"Power generation at twenty-five percent, Herr Braun," he announced. "If this keeps up, we’ll be able to attain zero point two efficiency within four minutes."
"Good work, Schultz. What about changing the efficiency to 0.1? That would take about four more minutes, ja? Since there isn’t a rush for anything, I’d say we give it a try."
Schultz the young scientist nodded reluctantly. "But Herr Braun, we never tried doing it at zero point one efficiency because –"
"Because we did not have a relevant, sufficient power source as these two," Dr. von Braun calmly interjected. "The last time we tried it, we were forced to use zero point two efficiency for the simple reason that we possessed only one T-268 mineral. Now we have two, and I strongly believe that we can take it further with zero point one. How many minutes will it take?"
"Approximately eight more minutes, Herr Braun. Bringing up to zero point one efficiency now."
"Humph," he snorted in bemusement. "I thought it would take less than five minutes. Very well then, Schultz. We all could wait for the clock to tick another eight minutes. Where’s the fire, eh?"
The few men surrounding them chortled a bit. Even the stern-faced guards gave the hint of wry smiles, though they were sporadic enough to change back to their usual stony selves. The young scientist queasily smiled, partly it was to show that he agreed with them all and partly it was because he knew something bad was going to happen soon.
The Ragnarok Device was simply a masterpiece that even the production-efficient Americans could never dream of constructing. They may be the first inventors of the atomic bomb, but they still lagged in many areas of science which the Reich excelled in. This was one of those areas.
Four minutes passed as the machine glowed a slight azure hue. It was so insignificant that there were only hints of it, easily detectable with a pair of night-vision goggles. Dr. von Braun fidgeted his hands with a ball-point pen taken from his coat pocket. Another three more minutes passed by before the glow became physically visible to the unshielded human eyes. The whole room was slowly vibrating violently, like the epicenter of a preliminary earthquake.
"Herr Braun, if we keep this up, the whole thing might just blow up," warned Schultz the young scientist. "The readings are going off-scale… simply impossible for such a thing."
"No," Dr. von Braun’s words dashed any hopes of sanity Schultz might have hoped for. "We will continue with the test at zero point one efficiency. Failure, my boy, is not an option."
Schultz was getting very worried, but if he tried to do something stupid, the Fallschirmjager guards were likely to gun him down without hesitation. They were under von Braun’s command, and had strict orders to shoot anyone attempting to interfere with the trial run. The way he understood it, Dr. von Braun was so obsessed with the experiment that he was already beyond the realm of sanity. The young scientist could only glance back in horror as the console monitor he was manning began sparking wildly. One of the engineers attempted to run out, but the Fallschirmjager man standing at the doorway popped several 5.56mm rounds into his head, dropping him dead. Schultz could see that even that stern-faced paratrooper was heavily sweating with fear that something was terribly wrong.
"Cowards! Traitors!" von Braun incessantly screamed. "Can’t you see that this experiment is working as planned? Schultz, do you –"
He didn’t have time to finish the question before a nanoscale wormhole ripped open inside Engine Room 02 and swallowed every unfortunate human being near its crux. Instead of stopping there, the wormhole inflated like a balloon that would not stop growing. From three microns in diameter, it erupted into a swirling lens of bright azure color fifteen meters across before dissipating just as quickly.
Within one minute the SS Berliner was gone, replaced by a massive azure wormhole that stretched on and ate the world around it. Within two minutes, it had sucked in the Goering battlegroup. But within those two minutes, in that brief amount of time, the veil between several parallel universes was punched through like knife through hot butter. Unlike the Hermann Goering and the rest of her battlegroup, the SS Berliner was not as lucky to travel into that hole created. Neither was Dr. von Braun nor his assistant Schultz, who died with a perplexed expression on his youthful face.
Part 1: Rapid Transition
Baltic Sea, 17 45 Hours, 19 December 1941
The waters were unusually calm in Northern Europe’s inner sea, even with a sky as dark as a stormy night for one straight day now. Kapitan zur See Hans-Jürgen Hellriegel, the new commanding officer of Unterseeboot 140, had been trailing the Baltic waters on the surface for a single day now. Standing atop the conning tower and monitoring the distant horizon with his binoculars, Hellriegel knew that it was perfectly safe to travel the Baltic Sea onboard a surfaced U-Boat. After all, this was a German lake and regulations can be damned.
For one-and-a-half day, the submarine’s Enigma machine had decrypted several incomprehensible messages. An hour or so of scanning and suppositions with the machine operator and the fregattenkapitan had revealed them to be map routes… in the Baltic Sea itself.
Thirty miles off the northern coasts of Usedom sat the source of the mysterious encrypted messages, which U-Boat 140 was heading to. The sea became choppier and long, endless shrouds of ethereal mists seemed to permeate the entire region.
Kapitan Hellriegel was gazing at another spot of the horizon when the fregattenkapitan constantly tapped him on the shoulders. The Kapitan was planning to give him a frank rebuttal once his body was turned, but what he saw prompted a different action instead.
"Mein Gott Im Himmel," he muttered aloud.
He counted fourteen unidentified ships laying miles off the port of the U-Boat, all of them flying the swastika. They were as still as the strangely calm sea, but what the kapitan found stranger was the biggest ship in the midst of the group. Its massive flat deck was pocketed with sleek craft, with an ‘island’ structure in the background. Unmistakably, even to the new commanding officer, it was an aircraft carrier.
"This must be where the signals originated from," the Fregattenkapitan gapingly commented. "They don’t look like any of the Kriegsmarine’s surface warships."
"But they still fly the Reich’s flag, don’t they?"
"True, but even then, the Kriegsmarine does not currently possess any aircraft carrier. The Graf Zeppelin hasn’t even been completed yet."
"You have a point there, Stuttgart. Do they look still and calm enough to you?"
Kapitan Hellriegel’s eyes brimmed with excitement. "I was thinking of getting men to board that large schweinhund, the aircraft carrier ship."
"Kapitan, are you crazy?"
"Of course not," he responded vehemently. "Those ships have floated for five minutes without moving an inch. I suspect that they would have signaled or attacked us if they were active. But they do not appear to be so. See my line of reasoning?"
Fregattenkapitan Weldon Stuttgart’s eyes widened with enlightenment. "I see your point, Kapitan. I’ll get this boat headed there at once."
As his aide went down the hatch, Hellriegel called after him. "Make sure you get everyone on to their battlestations, and start forming a boarding crew too. We have several Mausers and Bergmanns in the armory, if I recall."
"Mein Gott Im Himmel!"
It was probably the second time Kapitan zur See Hans-Jürgen Hellriegel swore the ever famous "Oh My God" in German. The flight deck of the mysterious aircraft carrier was huge and full of sleek planes that had to be rocket-powered. At least one of his crewmates had said so, given that they were not equipped with any sort of propellers commonly found on airplanes.
The ones on deck had swept-back wings and bubble canopies, giving the group of Kriegsmarine boarders that the dangerous-and-deadly feeling. He did not know why, but Kapitan Hellriegel silently realized that the Luftwaffe’s prop-driven planes wouldn’t last a second against these sleek things, however talented they were. Seeing the all too familiar iron cross and swastika markings on them made him sigh in relief; they belonged to the Third Reich, after all. A fellow boarder shouted and pointed at another one of those mysterious craft, this time a lumbering craft that had a propeller. The catch was that it was on top of the wingless craft, not at its nose.
"Looks too fat to fly," one of Hellriegel’s crewmates chortled. "And its propellers are fitted the wrong way."
Kapitanleutnant Weiss Pieter begged to differ. "Don’t doubt anything, Schwartz. Its engines are probably much more powerful than a Messerschmitt’s, capable of producing force that allows it to lift this huge beast off the ground."
"How do you know so much, Leutnant?" another boarder joined in the short conversation.
"Books and magazines, I’d imagine," he answered with sarcasm. "I had a few friends in the Luft who thought that something like this would be useful for carrying Heer troops in and out of battles. Maybe if there were…"
A 7.92 x 57mm bullet ricocheted five inches off the steel ground from where Kapitan Hellriegel was standing. The boarders of Unterseeboot-140 ducked almost immediately, with weapons loaded and safety triggers unlocked. The shot came from inside one of the island structure’s windows, evident from the bullet hole in its middle.
"Attention all hostile boarders," a booming voice in German erupted from nowhere. "You will lay down your arms and surrender to the men coming out of the bridge, or all of you will be shot. This is a military property of the Third Reich you have trespassed in, hostile boarders. Failure to comply will result in your deaths."
As if by command, the first door hatch leading into the carrier’s island swung open, and sailors clad in heavy feldgrau came out with strange-looking guns. Their commander – Hellriegel presumed that man was, because he wore a service cap - ordered the sailors to spread out in some sort of defensive-attack formation the boarders could barely decipher. By then, they had placed their weapons down as a gesture of friendly obedience.
Their commander unhurriedly walked up to Hellriegel, with left hand drawn inside the coat pocket. U-Boat 140’s kapitan presumed he had a hidden revolver waiting to be used in case he and his men got ‘adventurous’. A minute passed before he was staring face-to-face with him, and much to Hellriegel’s chagrin, he was in a Kapitan zur See’s Dienstanzug.
"What are you doing here?"
The next half an hour was spent on getting settled down and, after a few ‘oh gosh’ moments, chit-chatting their first subject of incredulity. Sitting inside the admiral’s cabin with Admiral Hans Konigsberg and Kapitan Joachim Scholer, and enjoying a cup of coffee made from beans imported from Argentina, Kapitan zur See Hellriegel now knew that this aircraft carrier was known as the KMS Hermann Goering, the pride of the Kriegsmarine since 1972. The rocket-planes he saw on the flight deck were He 395s (with a few Dornier Do22 mid-air refuellers mixed in), while those ‘rotor craft’ – they’re proper names were ‘Hubschraubers’ – were designated as FW 466s (solely for transport and anti-sub works) and FW 1109s (heavy gunships). They were simply beyond words to describe for the contemporary men.
"You know, I used to serve in an Unterseeboot," the admiral began. "But it was boring duty. Without the thrill of having plenty of ships to sink, submarining is a dry and dreary job."
"Perhaps in a world after the war," Kapitan Hellriegel said. "But now it isn’t – or at least for the rest of the wolf packs prowling the Atlantic. Those British and American ships are mightily easy prey, I heard."
The two men from the future simply startling stared at Hellriegel, eyes widened with astonishment. "Wha… what do you mean, Kapitan Hellriegel?"
Hellriegel gave back a look of incredulity. "Since the Reich would survive this war, don’t you know?" he politely asked. "We have been at war with Britain for two years now, and the Russians came later, and a few weeks ago, the Fuhrer had declared war on America. I’m pretty sure –"
"I thought we defeated Britain in 1940?" asked a terribly-perplexed Kapitan Scholer. "And a year later, we moved onto Russia. That was a really bad idea, caused the Fatherland a lot of problems for more than five years. Even into the 1970s, there are still plenty of Russian guerillas running about the eastern steppes."
A seaman suddenly burst into the cabin with worrying news. "Sorry to disturb you, Herr Admiral, but the communications technicians have confirmed it: All satellite links are permanently down, and the year is indeed 1941. December 19, to be exact."
The man was smart enough to stand still at attention while the news sank into his superiors’ mind. He was also thinking that this sort of imprudence was liable to come with punishment, but after weighing the urgency of the message he just spoke, the helmsman quietly shrugged it. Kapitan Hellriegel had never been more confused in his entire life than now. Britain was never defeated in 1940, and the Third Reich had carried on the damnable war by making more enemies in both west and east. Yet, this whole battlegroup from the future had promised the Reich’s existence after the war. Strangely mad and astounding if not for the proof outside, he silently pondered.
Admiral Hans Konigsberg was, however, fast enough to adapt to the situation at hand, already drawing numerous conclusions to the puzzle even with the little information given. The Kapitan of the Hermann Goering was doing the same thing, but on a more cautious scale than the admiral’s wild theories
"I think we popped into another Earth, Joachim," the admiral finally said, before gesturing for the seaman to leave the room. After the door was closed, he went on. "Different histories – we all know that the United States never went to war with us in 1941, except our newfound ‘friend’ here. Tell me Kapitan Hellriegel, when was the Soviet Union invaded and what do you know about the Eastern Front now?"
The answer was quick. "Sometime in late June this year, and the reports coming out of there seem to be that we are having a fine time there, except for the recent call for donating winter clothing to our troops in the Eastern Front just a few weeks ago."
"Trust me," the admiral leaned as close to Hellriegel as possible. "It isn’t fine, not by a long shot. I’ve read a lot of short biographies and survivor reports on that particular war, before ending up in charge of this battlegroup. That single front alone cost the Reich billions of Reichmarks, men and material, and that was without Great Britain hounding our backsides. Or America."
"Why?" the contemporary Kapitan naively asked. "We smashed the French by 1940, and we have our far eastern allies to help against the Americans and Britishers. I do not see how the war could be worse for us."
"That’s not what I’m saying. In four years time, the Americans would have their war industries running at top speed, and they would also have something called the atomic bomb. We have similar, deadlier weapons like those, if our U-Boats made it through. Basically, a single atomic bomb is able to wipe a city like Dresden or Nuremberg off the world map."
"Mein Gott," Kapitan Hellriegel swore under his breath, pausing to take a sip from his cup of served coffee.
"Going to war with the United States of America is folly," the admiral grimly replied, before he sighed over a point lost. "Russia should have been invaded in late May, and Britain should have been knocked out of the war after Dunkirk. In the world we came from, America was our opponent in the Lange Ruhepause."
"Lange Ruhepause?" asked a bemused Hellriegel.
"Ja, a Kalter Krieg. If it ever becomes hot, the world would end with radioactive rubbles and desolated continents. Neither the Reich nor the Americans can allow that to happen, for it would mean the end of civilization as we know it. It is also the reason we fear America, which is why I said going to war with the United States is a reckless adventure right from the start."
These are high-ranking men of the Reich, Hellriegel bewilderedly thought. How could they speak like that, and what sort of future did they come from?
"How did you all come back into this ‘alternate’ past, Herr Admiral?" he finally asked.
"Did it take you this long to ask that?" Kapitan Scholer sniggered. "I expected it to be the first question you’ll ever ask."
Admiral Hans Konigsberg waved him away. "We honestly don’t know, but perhaps it has something to do with the SS Berliner. A ship which – my men have confirmed – was lucky enough not to come along with us. Or the opposite, we really don’t know."
"Kapitan Hellriegel," the Hermann Goering’s skipper said. "I believe we have a war to fight, so would you start helping us by leading this battlegroup to the nearest German port?"
The three men in the room stood up, though it wasn’t simultaneous. Admiral Konigsberg was the last on his feet, with his face giving off a deadpanned look. Kapitan Hellriegel gave his best Nazi salute, and a ‘Heil Hitler’ to end it. The other men did the same thing.
"Ja, I will. The Fatherland can start correcting its mistakes with men like you."
Christmas Island, 23 17 Hours, 19 December 1941
It was forty-three minutes to midnight, yet the entirety of Christmas Island was still in an uproar unheard of even when the Indonesian Civil War raged on. To be pedantic about it, now it would not have happened for another seventy-six years if history went the same course on this world as it did in the other. Thus, it was a mighty shame that the Transition would change all that.
To the men of the 2nd/14th Regiment, they would have concurred otherwise. Staff Sergeant Clinton Wong was one of them. One of the first few men to wake up from the after-effects of the Transition had proceeded on to shaking the hell out of the staff sergeant, who was slumped on one of the canteen’s tables. He did wake up after five minutes of constant nagging and pushes, but at the cost of getting the man ground-grappled on the floor. After five seconds of noticing who it was, Clint realized his mistake and apologized.
"Oh – so sorry there, Private Abbey," he grimaced at the man rising from the ground. "Too much of Krav Maga and jujitsu training there. What had happened, by the way?"
"It’s alright, sir. From the looks of it, everyone on the island had been knocked unconscious for… I don’t know. A day or two maybe? A few guys woke up by themselves at the airfield and command centers, and they’re still trying to get a link to Darwin and Canberra."
"I see. Were they successful?"
"No sir," Abbey’s mouth was set on a grim line. "Our satlinks appear to be down as well, but they’re remedying the situation by launching the BED-2 drones."
"Damn, how the fuck could this happen. It can’t be the Indonesians attacking us with knock-out gas now, can’t it?"
"No sir, I would not agree with that," the private slowly explained why. "It’s highly unlikely that they would be able to bypass our radar screens, even if our sats are down. Unless it was the Chinese or Koreans, which is also unlikely since both of them have very little interests in this part of Southeast Asia."
The staff sergeant took a good look at the cafeteria. Unconscious men in fatigues and BDUs littered the mess hall in pockets here and there, though some were showing signs of reviving. If the Rebel Indonesians wanted to attack them now, it would be a cakewalk of a slaughter for them. Clint wondered for a moment and realized that it was impossible; they would be detected by the AWDs patrolling offshore. With their AN/SPY-3 radars, they would be able to scan anything within a three hundred mile radius range.
"Let’s go to HQ and see what’s going on," Staff Sergeant Clinton Wong conclusively said. "See what they have managed to gather on the state of the outside world."
It was dark and dank inside the heart of the Regimental Command HQ, situated just east of the island’s main airfield; its entrance bivouacked in between a row of Quonset huts. By the time Staff Sergeant Clinton Wong and Private Abbey Paterson got there, most of the comm techs and control officers had woken up. Not the battalions’ top brass, but Lieutenant Christopher Roach was the closest high-ranking officer available. The private was demurred into proceeding any further when he saw the captain in the room, until the lieutenant assured him that things were going to alright.
"Don’t worry mate," he re-assured Abbey. "It’s just him in his post-street punk mood, and probably the depression of never having risen any higher than the rank of lieutenant in the past five years."
"It’s alright, Private Paterson," the lieutenant called out. "You can come in and hear what’s being spoken. Doesn’t matter now anyway, since…"
"Lieutenant, what’s wrong?" asked the staff sergeant.
The lieutenant’s eyes were gleaming with depression and impossibility, highlighted by the blue flat-screens permeating the HQ. One of the control officers – Sergeant Myra Mackay – filled in the blanks for him.
"We’re stuck in December 19, 1941," she dourly spoke. "It explains why all our satlinks are down, and also why there was talk of war between Japan and Germany over the radio waves. Apparently, Queensland has gone back with us too and there’s an American battlegroup somewhere out there in the Pacific."
Outside, the roar of two patrolling F-22 Raptors soaring out of the airfield shrieked into the air of 1941, distracting Staff Sergeant Clinton Wong for a moment. In just a day, the sparkling image of his wondrous life, his home and his girlfriend in Perth shattered into a billion little pieces from which millions more may spring. Fate was being a real cruel bitch to him now, but that wasn’t a fair thing to say. Doubtlessly, millions more were dying out in this new world. World War II quickly rushed into mind, all its atrocities and depravations, all the hopes and joys of millions while they toiled under the boots of the Nazis and Japanese. And the Soviets too. If these were civvies, he would’ve laughed at them straightaway. Clint had worked with the lieutenant for five long years however, and he trusted the man enough to know that when he said things in such a serious monotone voice, it was probably too good to be true.
"How… how the fuck could this happen?"
"Nobody knows, Clint," Lieutenant Roach depressingly said, as he walk passed the stunned duo. "Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be heading to the toilet…"
Townsville Military Centre, 17 22 Hours, 20 December 1941
The dull thudding of a recessing helicopter rotor blade echoed throughout the military compound, where such sights and sounds had been common even before the past two ‘post-Transition’ days. Standing beside civilian author John Birmingham on a gravel path, General Johnny ‘Bullseye’ Beagle knew that that single ominous-looking MRH-90 contained the current, most famous Prime Minister of Australia. John Curtin. The same man who would have led the Down Under through the darkest period of World War II and then some. For six long hours, this particular chopper had been tasked with escorting PM John Curtin from the contemporary capital of Canberra to Coalition headquarters in Townsville. Since the Transition hadn’t brought Darwin or Canberra along, the next best thing to a HQ was here in Townsville.
The side doors slid open, signaling that it was safe to disembark the chopper and allowing PM John Curtin to come out and have a good hard look at the future. From Birmingham’s point of view, he looked shocked and stressed, both of which the PM had tried to hide through a gaze of uncompromised defiance; the latter probably due running a country under wartime conditions and under military threat of an invasion from a hostile power. Tipping his horn-rimmed glasses, the fourteenth Australian prime minister firmly walked up to the colonel and the ‘future-men’ gathered around him.
General Beagle, and every soldier surrounding him, snapped off a crisp salute.
"A pleasure to meet you, Prime Minister," the general said as his salute recessed. "I am General Johnny Beagle, supreme commander of all Future Australian forces in um, 21C Queensland. I’m afraid that my counterpart isn’t here at the moment. His in Brisbane, I believe, organizing the Future American units."
The prime minister’s face turned from dour defiance to a smile. "Well, enough with the introductions. I was told that I would be given a tour of this future military base. I want to know if we are ready if the Japanese invades Australia."
Birmo couldn’t help but snigger at the PM’s last line. A few soldiers who were historically aware of what had been said either rolled their eyes or attempted to suppress a giggle of incredulity.
"Excuse me sir," the award-winning author cut in, "but the Japanese never had the logistical capacity to carry out a successful invasion of Australia. ‘Impossible’ and ‘Suicide’ would be two words to describe such an event. And with the array of future forces transported back, I would say it’s a pipe dream for them to pull it off."
"Ah, this civilian here is Mr. John Birmingham, Prime Minister," the general introduced. "Famous author who won multiple awards, including a Pulitzer Prize, he was in the neighborhood when the Transition struck us out of the blue. I believe that his home in Ipswich came along too, so he doesn’t have to worry about the blues that’s been striking most of the Future Americans."
Birmo took a step forward and shook the prime minister’s hands.
"Good to meet you too, Prime Minister," he smartly spoke. "I would never had believe that one of my novels could come back to haunt me, though."
Curtin raised an eyebrow. ‘Why, Mr. Birmingham?"
Birmo took a thick, paperback-sized book held under his shoulders and passed it onto the prime minister. He sincerely hoped that it would be treated with care and respect, because that was the last of the ‘special’ 2007 editions filled with his signatures.
Curtin grabbed the novel gently and realized that it was no ordinary novel. For starts, it slightly reminded him of the yanks’ pulp magazine covers, albeit in black and white. The drawing was something he had not seen on any book before. Black thunder swarmed above a pair of dissimilar ships facing each other in a silent standoff; one of the ships was sleek and huge, while the other was a familiar battleship. The title read KARATE SCHNITZEL.
The prime minister frowned again. "What sort of novel is this, Mr. Birmingham? I’m supposing it has something to do with this ‘Transition’."
The general made the reply for Birmo. "The novel, Prime Minister, deals with the same situation we are all facing now. Except that it was a small taskforce of naval warships from the twenty-first century, and it was in the middle of 1942. Mr. Birmingham here was lucky enough to have it in his car before the Transition struck."
"I see," Curtin paused as he absorbed what had just been said, placing the book inside his coat. "But I think we’re going a little off the rail, General. Can we just start with the tour now? I want to see what the future would bring to all of us."
"Not a problem, Prime Minister," General Beagle smiled. "Not a problem. Now if you’ll come with us, we’ll be first showing you the gears and equipment our troops wear and carry into battle…"
Christmas Island, 05 10 Hours, 21 December 1941
BLAM! BLAM! BLAM!
The echoes of a SIG-Sauer P226 handgun firing 9mm rounds in triple succession woke Lieutenant Clinton Wong from his near dreamless state. Images of the previous captain’s suicide had kept haunting him ever since yesterday; he doubted it would dissipate anytime soon. The company had lost a good man and all because they were transited seventy-six years into the past. Starting from scratch for somebody with no life was probably easy, but for those who had left friends and families behind, it was an emotionally traumatic occurrence.
It was also something Wong had never experienced in his entire life. Maybe once or twice he had a brush with depression, but not to this traumatic state.
There was a tap on his left shoulder, and he glanced to see a concerned Private Abbey Paterson sitting beside him. It was also then that he realized they were in a cargo compartment of one of two C-17 Globemaster IIIs preparing for action in Malaya, but would be landing in Singapore first just to say hello to the ‘temps. Having been promoted to full Lieutenant after Roach’s suicide, Clint was now in charge of ‘A’ Recon Troop, 2nd/14th Light Horse Regiment’s reformed B Squadron. Seated in the plane’s cargo hold – which was where Clint and his men were currently situated – was a trio of ASLAV-26s, probably the biggest improvement on the versatile ASLAV. Fitted with a twin thirty-millimeter Tenix autocannon and programmable missile pods on both sides of its turret, it was probably the most heavily armed fast-attack vehicle on this planet.
"We’re gonna kick arses with these babies right, El-Tee?" asked Paterson.
Clint nodded back warily. "Figure if we could fit in a Leopard tank or two, it’d be so much better. Those Japanese tin-cans were so lightly armored that even a M4 Carbine could’ve penetrated their armoring."
"What ‘bout their planes, sir?" Sergeant Major James Tung, a grizzled Aboriginal who had been in ‘A’ Troop since 2006, interjected from his right. Like Clint, he also had a smattering of interest in WWII military equipment to know how pathetic most Japanese armored vehicles were.
"Reckon that we won’t have enough AA missiles to deal with them should they come in swarms."
The cargo bay doors were closing, as the last of ‘A’ Troop boarded in. There were another two planes carrying elements of the 2nd/14th LHR’s squadrons, which should have been fully boarded by now. The transport plane’s turbofans were beginning to incessantly spin.
"No, but I say that our Thirty Mike-Mikes would be able to accurately deal with them if they came low enough. Besides, haven’t you heard that a future Yank CVBG that came through the other side will be supporting us through the Indian Ocean?"
"Yup," Lieutenant Wong warily agreed. "The Japanese are well and truly screwed."
USS George H.W. Bush, 07 17 Hours, 21 December 1941
The core of a nine-ship battlegroup, the USS George H.W. Bush was the tenth and last of the Nimitz kind, having been launched in 2008 and commissioned in 2009. With ninety fixed wing and helicopter crafts stowed onboard, and having a full array of advanced sensors and processing systems, it was one of the most advanced supercarriers that would had been dwarfed by CVNX-classes that were said to be coming online either in early ’18 or ’19. Too fucking bad that wasn’t going to happen; not for a while on this world anyway.
Two kilometers aft lay the venerable Ticonderoga-class missile cruiser Vella Gulf while two klicks on her portside was the Arleigh Burke-class missile destroyer Kandahar. Unlike the Gulf, the Kandahar was special in the way that she was one of the only five Tier Three Burkes ever built between 2006 and 2013. Her cruise missiles included not only Tomahawks, but advanced Super Harpoon ship killers and sub-kiloton penetrators as well. The three different types of cruise missiles were also in use with the CVBG’s Zumwalt-class missile destroyers, which were flanking the massive behemoth on both sides and front. The Zumwalt, Schofield and Duck were the latest in the US Navy’s arsenal of guided missile destroyers, packed with the latest in CIWS weaponry and wielding the most advanced sensor equipment on the planet: the AN/SPY-4. In the event that they run out of ammunition, there was always the Backbone – the battlegroup’s combined supply ship – laying in protective comfort between the Zumwalt and the George Bush.
They were also the reason why Admiral Philip Cleburne felt relaxed while overseeing the battlegroup from the safety of the Bush’s flag bridge. That was not even counting the two SSNs patrolling ahead of the battlegroup, or the two drones seven-hundred kilometers above acting as satellite substitutes ever since the Transition threw them back to 1941. Of current, they were cruising towards Singapore at the full speed of thirty knots with four F-35Cs orbiting the battlegroup, armed with Harpoons and JSOWs to deal with any hostile surface vessels.
"I’d love to see how the Japanese would attempt to sink one of our ships, Admiral," Captain Gregory Howery commented as he watched an F-35 being readied for launch from the flight deck. "Bet none of them can even pass through our three-hundred kilometer screen, since we aren’t missing any ships."
"I just got this nifty idea that I want to try out though, Greg. Luring the whole Combined Fleet and sinking them in one single strike. What do you think?"
"Hell Admiral, you’ll have a time trying to lure them in one place. Better sink ‘em while they’re in port or moving somewhere else. During this Singapore Op, we’ll probably waste a lot of ammunition if things get too hot and furious. Reckon that won’t happen, if the folks in Queensland and Christmas Isle do their jobs properly. Ya’ know what I think? I think we should’ve headed straight for the Philippines and help MacArthur out. They’re our boys, even if its seventy-six years in the past."
"Only one problem with that, Greg," Admiral Cleburne countered. "The Malayan Peninsula is a hell lot closer than the Philippines. If we hold Singapore and a chunk of Malaysia – sorry, Malaya – there’s a good chance that the Japanese attempt on the Philippines would be weakened, and they won’t attempt to hit the Indonesia like in the history books. So I say we hit with the Singapore Op."
"Fine by me I guess," the captain shrugged. "Wonder what’ll happen when we return to Pearl. You got to figure how Admiral Nimitz is going to react to this ship once he hears of it."
"Holy crap, I bet," the admiral chuckled.
Dawn was just rising over the horizon, and in an hour or so, the blazing rays of the sun would completely engulf the tropical skies high above. The roar of a pair of F-35s shrieking out of the flight deck drew a brief cursory glance from the crew working on the flag bridge, but no one paid real attention to them. It was just normal routine, like every other day.
Admiral Cleburne was busy scribbling notes on a desk for a plan of action against Japan, ever since they popped back in time. Having an encyclopedia of World War II opened right beside him helped too, as the admiral now knew who he would be up against.
Admiral Yamamoto, he quietly thought. You’ll get your wish of a Kassen Kantai, alright.
"How long more until we arrive in Singapore, Greg?"
"In ‘bout another two hours," Captain Howery sporadically answered. "By that time, the bombers from Down Under would be flying out to bomb the Japanese high and low. Reckon it’ll be a one-sided affair."
"No doubt, Greg."
Part 2: Confrontations
Townsville Military Centre, 20 22 Hours, 20 December 1941
Prime Minister John Curtin’s eyes were red with watery tears. Not because he was sad or depressed, but for the first time in his office term, relief had overwhelmed him with the fury of a raging tsunami. The historical video clips the future men were showing him debunked the possibility of a Japanese invasion of Australia and confirmed the fact that one way or another, the Allies were on the inevitable march towards victory.
"I presume this victory would take four more years of bloody fighting and dying, General?" he skeptically asked, wiping the tears away, whilst a black-and-white footage showing US Marines storming Iwo Jima was playing.
"Probably a lot sooner, Prime Minister," General Beagle replied from behind. "Due to the Indonesian Civil War prior to the Transition, and in tentative agreement with us, the Americans stockpiled large amounts of modern munitions and weaponry in Queensland, along with their forces streaming in. If the Japanese do try to set foot here, they will – I sincerely assure you – be slaughtered to the last man."
He continued on. "Of course, that’s if they still have a navy left to escort an invasion force."
"What do you mean by that, General?"
"We just received word that a Future American naval battlegroup had just materialized in the Indian Ocean. Currently, they’re still trying to shake off the Transit shock but the admiral in charge had told me that he’ll be steaming for Singapore once everything has been settled. Just one battlegroup, Prime Minister, has more than enough firepower to sink the entire Combined Fleet. Once the deed’s done, the Japanese will think twice about adventuring in this part of the world."
The prime minister’s face lit with respite once more. For now, he could put away the specter of the Japanese enemy and concentrate on things non-related to war. He had wanted a tour of the entirety of Queensland 2017, but that was scheduled for tomorrow. Like many other contemporary Australians who would soon know, he was very interested in the future. After all, it wasn’t like every day where you had the future setting up shop in the past. He turned to look for Mr. Birmingham; quickly remembering that the author had went back to his home in Ipswich.
The ‘color-movie’ they were now playing was a mind-map presentation of the plan to win the war as fast as possible, and the geopolitical and domestic issues to deal with following the war’s end. Being a strong proponent of the ‘White Australia Policy’, he certainly did not like the fact that Australia should encourage non-whites to settle here in order to bolster her population.
I wonder if we could do something about that, he thought.
RAAF Base Scherger, 09 10 Hours, 21 December 1941
Sitting next to a coast overlooking the Gulf of Carpentaria, the small mining town of Weipa was already readying for the long day ahead. Also just next to it was a military airbase designated as RAAF Scherger. An airbase that housed an immense number of warplanes capable of leaving one’s mind boggling with the possibilities of unrestricted violence.
Belonging to the Royal Australian Air Force, RAAF Scherger now hosted a squadron of B-52Hs from Minot AFB in the States. Before the Transition, it was due to inevitable American/Australian involvement in the Indonesian Civil War that prompted the USAF to place the 5th Bomb Wing, 8th Air Force here as part of the big build-up of armed forces. Taking a cue from her past adventures in Iraq and Syria, the United States decided that the best course of action would be a massive build-up of strategic and tactical forces before they plunged into a hostile country. Now, the products of the build-up were going to be used against the Japanese in Malaya.
Of the twelve B-52Hs belonging to the 5th Bomb Wing stationed at RAAF Scherger, only four were participating in the mission today. Rightly dubbed as Big Ugly Fat Fuckers, they have been the USAF’s workhorse for more than six decades. Captain Fredrick Manahan was grappling onto his control stick just as his co-pilot, Lieutenant Mather Lieu, switched on all the relevant switches. His bomber was the first in line, having taxied in the runway next to the others.
"You’re cleared to commence the flight, Big Monkey One," his earphones filled with the voice of the air traffic controller stationed up in the airfield’s main tower.
"Roger that, control."
Manahan gauzily pushed the flight throttles forward. The big bomber lurched forward, moving slowly while it gained speed. He was aware that the other three B-52s were doing the same thing, but such thoughts were placed aside as the bomber’s eight Pratt & Whitney engines shrieked to life. Quickly, he recounted the armaments being carried by this half-squadron and where they were going to drop it on.
Fifty-one CBU-71s, twenty-seven of which were stored inside the bomb bays while the other nineteen were attached to the bombers’ HSAB external pylons. Each of these cluster bomblets contained six-hundred and fifty BLU-68B incendiary submunitions which used titanium pellets as the incendiary agents. They were going to drop approximately two-hundred and four CBU-71s on the unsuspecting Japanese-held Malayan town of Alor Setar, which was where General Tomoyuki Yamashita’s HQ was currently located.
It’ll be so much easier to just call it Malaysia, the captain thought.
His earphones blared with the voice of his navigator. "Drone-links from the Bush CVBG verified and secured, Cap’n. They’re feeding clear images of enemy positions in Malaysia. Correction, Malaya."
"Keep ‘em coming, Dave."
In next to no time, the B-52 was already roaring out of the airfield, with the intent to kill as many Japanese as possible. Captain Manahan could not help but feel a little sympathy for the Japanese about to die from his bombs. They were not supposed to be his enemies, but through a twist of monkey-wrenching fate that brought Queensland back in time, they were now.
"Ain’t no racist or anything like it," his co-pilot said as the behemoth flew to four thousand feet, "but those goddamn Japs are going to feel what’s hell like pretty soon."
"Amen to that, Lieu."
Outside, the glaring rays of the sun splendorously reflected against the metal plates of the B-52 Stratofortress as it climbed towards six thousand feet in the blue sky.
Wewelsburg Castle, 10 00 Hours, 21 December 1941
The chill of winter, coupled with the snowing, made Admiral Hans Konigsberg feel right at home. Wewelsburg was exactly as he remembered in his time, with a remote rural town and a huge castle that served as the headquarters of the Schutzstaffel. The snow-draped pinewoods were still aplenty, also a trademark of the North Rhine-Westphalia region in that other world.
Waiting outside the entrance of the castle was not a pleasant moment, however. The SS guards were as arrogant as those he worked with before, and their leader had told him and Oberst Wilhelm Strasse – commander of the 7th Regiment, 25th Wehrmacht Mechanized Infantry division – to wait out in the cold while he ‘checked’ for their clearance. The Oberst was a man he got along well with, like every other Wehrmacht men it seemed. Perhaps he never got along with egotistical, haughty people – the SS had them in truckload – which was why he did not like them in the first place. But they served the Reich, and that was all he needed to know to work with them.
Even if they are conceited with misleading visions of grandeur, he thought.
A black uniformed SS man – a Standartenfuhrer, by a look on the insignia on his collar tabs – stepped out of the castle’s front entrance with an authoritarian elegance. He was a good feet away from the guests when he stopped dead on his tracks to click his boots and give off a one-arm Nazi salute.
"Heil Hitler," he saluted.
Both Oberst and admiral answered back in unison. Even after the original Fuhrer had died in the other world, ‘Heil Hitler’ was still the norm instead of ‘Heil Himmler’ or ‘Heil Heydrich’. Letting his mind wonder off for a moment, Admiral Konigsberg wondered why they were sent here in the first place. Indeed, if it was still 1975 and his fleet was off the coasts of Peru, he wouldn’t be visiting this place for another five months. Maybe a year or more.
Today was the second day he and the Hermann Goering battlegroup had spent in the Reich’s glorious history. Having flown in by a Hubschrauber from Wilhelmshaven – where the battlegroup was anchored – nearly thirty minutes ago, the admiral was getting very impatient, evident with his twitching fingers.
"You will proceed with me to the Reichsfuhrer’s office," the SS man said. "He is expecting both of you."
Admiral Konigsberg rolled his eyes. As the Americans say: now if that wasn’t just stating the obvious. The past isn’t very different after all.
Walking into the interior, the admiral felt that he was walking back through time again, some three hundred years long past. It had all the trappings of a medieval Teutonic castle, with majestic swastika regalia and SS symbols decorating the walls and hallways. Obviously not much of an infantryman, Admiral Konigsberg felt a little of his will to meet the Reichsfuhrer died as they were led through long stretches of hallways that didn’t seem to have an end in sight. Every time they turned, there was also another corridor or a spiraling staircase to walk through. The Wehrmacht Oberst did not seem overly bothered by the winding trail which they had to walk through, a result of his stint in Ostland and Afghanistan back in the other world.
But finally, the procession ended in front of an old, wooden door. The SS man knocked it twice, and a reply of ‘You may enter’ responded. There was no mistaking of that sound, for Konigsberg was old enough to remember his voice during open-air rallies and radio speeches: It was Heinrich Himmler.
The SS man gestured for both of them to come inside, after which he stepped out of the door himself. Indeed, the SS-Reichsfuhrer was seated behind an old oak desk, with an imposing painting of Henrich the Fowler set on the wall behind him. As the door closed behind them, the former chicken farmer rose from his armchair and instead of giving the usual one-arm Nazi salute, he motioned the future men to sit on the wooden chairs provided.
"In the past two days," the Reichsfuhrer began, "I’ve heard of many a wonderful and dreadful things happening in the realm of the Reich. The Fuhrer has heard little of this, and it won’t be long before he deigns to speak with the both of you. History has provided the Fatherland a great, immeasurable boon and I will make sure, as long as pure Aryan blood still coarse through my veins, that a single ounce of your gifts shall not be wasted just merely because it is unpleasant."
His quiet eyes turned into furious excitement in the blink of an eye. "Tell me, all of it, of the course history took in this other world of yours."
"Well…" Admiral Konigsberg began in his stride, with all the tiny little details he could muster from the long hours spent on speed-reading historical books from his world. From what he could analyze, the Reich of this world wasn’t going down the right path that it should be traveling. He hoped that the tide of history here could be diverted onto a more successful path like his, or perhaps even better.
In Flight, 11 10 Hours, 21 December 1941
It had been two straight hours since they flew off the airfield in Weipa, but Captain Manahan could feel the solitary stretch of boredom gradually creeping into his dulled mind. If the navigator was right – and he was, always – then it’ll be another two hours or so before they would be high above the northern Malayan town of Alor Setar to drop their fiery payloads of death. A small part of his conscious told him that a lot of Malayans were going to get killed too, but such were the fortunes of war. Especially if it was a total war situation as in the Second World War he was about to participate in.
Well, now he and his co-pilot could seat back and enjoy the view of the blue morning sky at forty-five thousand feet. His squadron of four B-52s was on autopilot, slaved to the drone orbiting the north Malaya. The other guys that were going to hit targets in Indochina would have to solely rely on INS, compasses and maps because there weren’t any drones orbiting there now. ECM’s weren’t really necessary since the world of 1941 had barely built a computer, let alone electronic jammers and the Japanese did not have radar at this point of time. Their best fighters were hopelessly inadequate to deal with a subsonic flying jet bomber, which gave more grounds to his comfort. Time to relax a little, he thought.
"Ladies and gentlemen," Lieu spoke through the squadron’s UHF. "I hope you’re all enjoying the flight to the cool and mysterious Malayan town of Alor Setar, which would shortly cease to exist within the next three hours. Please savor the surroundings while you can now, and do fly with us again in the future."
"The far fucking future," the intercom chorused.
Forty-five thousand feet below the flying BUFFs was the jungles of Central Sulawesi, currently known as Celebes, which would have been a hotbed of violence between its ethnic Muslim and Christian populations in another future. Before the ‘Transition’, Coalition forces were supposed to land here to root out Jihadi forces and bases scattered throughout the entire island and provide relief for the oppressed minorities. The bombers’ intended target was a city in a country that had yet to exist, because they were currently held by a brutal occupying force rivaling the Muslim Jihadis in Afghanistan and Indonesia.
But if anyone asked him if he missed his future, Captain Fredrick Manahan would have just said that he will never shed a tear for it. Ever.
Wewelsburg Castle, 10 20 Hours, 21 December 1941
Heinrich Himmler could not believe a single word of it, but slowly the realization dawned upon him. Here seated in front of him were two men from a ‘parallel reality’ where the Third Reich defeated Britain in 1940, and proceeded on to eradicate the Bolshevik scum in the next seven years. A world where their Eastern ally would lose the war in the far east in 1943, and be subjugated by American nuclear weapons two years later. Of course, in that world, Japan was never an ally of the Reich after the United States went to war against the ‘yellow men of the east’. The most shocking thing he heard, however, was the Fatherland acquiring his own arsenal of nuclear weapons only two years after the Americans used them. It told the SS Chief that going to war against the United States and the Soviet Union simultaneously was a rash and foolish act. Still, with superior hindsight and Aryan resolve, the Reich would still triumph over all – whether they were the barbaric Bolsheviks in the east or the capitalist Jewish pigs of the west.
"The SS Berliner would forever be remembered as the ‘savoir of the Fatherland’, for bringing us your fleet. Now we can be certain that the Allies will be smashed, but how long would that take?"
"It will depend on how we knock them out, and who uses the first nuclear weapon on the battlefield," Admiral Konigsberg nonchalantly replied. "An armistice in the West is definitely a viable option, given that the Reich would be able to concentrate her war effort against the Bolsheviks in the east."
"Which leaves our Japanese allies behind," Himmler pointed out.
"In my honest opinion, Herr Reichsfuhrer, the Japanese should be used as sacrificial goats. They were the ones who made the mistake of drawing America into the war after all, and thus all blame should rest squarely on them. Besides, they will eventually fall."
The SS Chief pondered the thought over. It was not a bad hypothesis, given that Japan was a faraway ally and that the Fatherland had zero interests in the Asia-Pacific region to date. And even if they were to survive this war unscathed, both of their racial philosophies dictated that only one could be the master race of the Earth. After all, the Asians were inferior peoples not too dissimilar from the Slavic Bolsheviks the Third Reich was fighting and exterminating in Russia.
It is either them or us, Himmler grinned. Der Mensch der Erkenntniss muss nicht nur seine Feinde lieben, er muss auch seine Freunde hassen können. The man of knowledge must be able not only to love his enemies but also to hate his friends
"How long will it take for you to deploy your forces on both fronts, Herr Admiral?" the SS Chief asked.
The admiral eyes’ stirred visibly for a moment. "We barely have enough forces to focus on one front, let alone two. Or three, as the reports said. But my ships can sink the British ships guarding England, and allow ground forces to land and permanently establish a presence there. If we capture the British Isles, it would certainly block any American involvement in Western Europe and let their attention turn to the Pacific. And if we can develop an atomic bomb and a working ICBM by 1945, I assure you that the Third Reich will be sole master of this world for the next thousand years."
"The admiral is correct," Oberst Wilhelm Strasse agreed. "On the note of my ground forces, we can force the Russians out of Moscow before winter’s end. They will have nothing to match our composite-armored panzers, helicopter gunships and my battle-hardened men. With luck, we will capture Moscow so fast that Stalin and Beria won’t be able to escape from the city itself."
"All is good to hear," Himmler let a smile play on his face. "I am sure that the Fuhrer would be very pleased with this news. Alas, it is a sad thing that your ‘boomers’ did not survive the journey across time. They would have considerably done much to end this war in our favor."
"Truth to be known," the admiral spoke up, "we are not even sure that our ‘boomers’ got destroyed by the ‘Event’ that pulled us through. It could be stuck in another part of the world, and the lack of satellite links obstructs our attempt to verify their survival."
A look of horror showered the SS Chief’s happy face not for the first time. "You mean that they could be in anyone’s hands, anywhere?"
"Yes, but there is another catch: even if they are captured, the enemy will never be able to launch the missiles without the confirmation codes. They are essentially useless to the enemy in that way."
"Then what about the Hermann Goering?" Himmler tried another approach with a big wide smile. "Does she – or he – carry any ‘nuclear’ weapons?"
"None whatsoever," Admiral Konigsberg replied. "Unlike the Americans of our world, we do not possess mini-nukes. And I am given to understand that the Americans employ them for tactical purposes only. Their artillery guns, for instance, use nuclear ordnance in the battlefield but an event as such is extremely rare and unlikely. They do not want to provoke a nuclear war." Like us, he quietly thought.
"Typical decadent western capitalist attitude," Himmler muttered. "They are no different than their counterparts in this world."
He wished he could readily agree with the Reichsfuhrer, but Admiral Hans Konigsberg had lived the better part of his life in a world where America and Germany were locked in a long, subtle struggle of global dominance. Such wishful thinking was for the cinema, and only fools believed that America was still a decadent nation of mongrels. They possessed production lines that were currently untouchable, and their industrial manpower was simply astounding. No, American ingenuity would soon run to full speed and the opportunity to defeat them will then be lost. He did not want Germany to take the path Japan did in his history. Something must be done quickly to bar them from Europe.
"Well then, Admiral Konigsberg, Oberst Strasse, you may go now and ready your forces for war. The Fuhrer would soon be in touch with the both of you. Sieg Heil!"
Alor Setar, 13 24 Hours, 21 December 1941
The heavy droning of thirty-two pulse jet engines could be heard throughout the Malaysian province of Kedah, and no one could say that the BUFF was undetectable. In fact, as Manahan’s squadron passed through this part of Malaya, Japanese anti-aircraft guns opened up on them in vain. At least two squadrons of Mitsubishi A6M2s had also been dispatched to intercept the bombers during the flight from the Malayan coastline, with results similar to the AAAs.
Fucktards couldn’t even shoot a fish in a barrel, Captain Manahan snorted. Their triple As are helluva worse than a Third World nation like Myanmar.
For a moment, he remembered that the Japanese did not have radar at this point of the war and wondered how they had managed to identify his little squadron. He just as quickly shoved the thought back into that dark, dank part of his mind where stupid ideas remained under lock. Even forty-five thousand feet in the sky, the bombers were huge, loud and more often than not left smoky contrails in their wake. They were also flying in broad daylight. Ground spotters probably, though it’s not like they have SAMs or lasers.
"Navigator to pilot," the intercom cackled, "We’re about two minutes away from target."
"Acknowledged that, over."
Switching over to the secure UHF frequency, he announced, "All Big Monkey units, we are about to commence bombing run in two minutes. Weather’s crystal clear, and the drone feeds we’ve received are spotless."
His squadron was flying in wing-to-wing formation, the bomb bay doors being readied for action. The massive load of incendiary ordnance onboard their B-52s were a sure-guarantee for wanton destruction, even more so once it was unloaded unto a small tropical town in Northern Malaysia. Malaya damnit, its frickin’ Malaya, the captain quietly reprimanded himself. It’ll be sometime before Malaysia pops up on the world map again. Just like many things he took for granted back in the 21st Century.
Two minutes felt like the eternity of a lifetime. The lumbering bombers swept past the lush, tropical jungles and paddy fields of northwestern Malaya before they were directly over the town. Anti-aircraft fire futilely spat torrents of explosive flak, but they burst harmlessly well below the BUFFs. The drone was watching them just one hundred and fifty thousand feet above the bombers, having guided them to the town itself. Its multipurpose sensors now gave their navigators the target box info, which was sporadically passed onto the bombardiers.
The intercom in the four B-52s ringed out. "Bomb release in three, two, one…"
In a minute, approximately two hundred and four incendiary cluster bombs were dropped from a height of forty-five thousand feet. As they dropped, spurred by their cast aluminum fins, the bombs began their speedy descent slicing through the air and gaining by the gravitational pull of the earth. Simultaneously, their SUU-30 dispensers leapt into action at twelve thousand feet, releasing a staggering amount of one hundred and thirty-eight thousand seven hundred and twenty BLU-68/B incendiary submunitions on every piece of concrete, grass, flesh and machine within the targeted box.
The results were fairly spectacular and bloody. A Malay man who was walking along the streets got shredded – literally, from head to toe - in a hail of fiery pellets, while a column of Japanese trucks and armored vehicles were instantly vaporized in an metallic maelstrom. Explosions ripped through every building unfortunate enough to be located inside the target box, and fires began their uncontrollable spread. By dusk, a large portion of the town would be burning like an Iraqi oilfield.
The Imperial Japanese 25th Army headquarters was wasted within twenty seconds. Within five minutes, the only men left inside were the dead and they were aplenty. Charred, skeletal bodies lay unrecognizable. General Yamashita, commander of the Japanese 25th Army, was one of them. This single act of wanton destruction would have heavy repercussions in the near-future, both good and ill.
All of it was recorded by the drone orbiting one hundred and nine thousand feet above, of course.
Singapore, 14 46 Hours, 21 December 1941
Admiral Philip Cleburne couldn’t see the reason behind the name of the Battle Box for this archaic place, other than the fact that it was as square as a box. The Brits are always coming up with all sorts of funny names for mundane places, he thought. No wonder they lost their empire, or soon would anyway.
To be frank, he would rather have the meeting taking place at Raffles hotel than in this abominable place. His 21C counterpart, Colonel Woomera Robertson, showed no signs of discomfort other than the occasional nudge. No one could blame the US admiral really. In his day, nearly every aspect of an admiral’s duties was carried out inside an air-conditioned environment, with proper lighting and wide spectrum access to the Net. He barely remembered a time when such comforts were not taken for granted, and now Admiral Cleburne was ready to miss them like hell.
At least there’s still the George Bush, and the rest of the battlegroup. And Queensland too.
In front of the two visitors from the future were maps of Peninsular Malaya and Singapore. A quick glance on a few of them told the admiral that things weren’t looking good. The Japanese held most of northern Malaya, and they were rapidly pushing down south. The British had lost Penang already. More precisely, they had abandoned it and handed the Japanese the keys to the island a day later. By tonight, he knew that British forces would evacuate west of the Perak River. In four days time, the Japanese would control all Malayan territory stretching north and west of the river itself. This was the story of the last days of 1941, and the first half of 1942. Retreat, retreat and more retreating…
It couldn’t be helped. Allied war equipment had yet to be efficient, and the American war industry wasn’t running on full speed yet. Men like General Ernest Arthur Percival made it all the more worse. Sheer incompetence and the lack of affirmative action had unraveled the Allied defenses against the Japanese in Malaya and then Singapore. If he read his history books correctly, the general surrendered Singapore because he was too afraid of having to take part in a long, heavy siege.
The Soviets didn’t flinch when they held on in Leningrad and Stalingrad, he contemptibly thought. The 101st Airborne didn’t give in to German demands of surrender during the siege of Bastogne. So much for Churchill’s blood, toil and tears.
On his watch, however, none of this bullshit would come to pass. Already the George Bush’s strike group was preparing for an Alpha Strike on Japanese targets in Malaya. Tomorrow, an element of 21C RAA’s 2nd/14th LHR would be bolstering the defenses of the Kuala Kangsar area with modern weapons and equipment, supported by his carrier battlegroup. By then, the Japanese should also be reeling from the loss of their theatre command headquarters. With enough fissures applied, Allied forces could push the Japanese 25th Army out of Malaya altogether. And that’s if a timid little cunt like Percival didn’t get in the way of things.
There weren’t any 24-inch flat screens and wireless connectors in place here yet, but word had traveled down fast among the local higher-ups that the B-52 raid had successfully killed the Japanese 25th Army commander and hostile ground forces within the vicinity. The airfield at Alor Setar had gone through the raid unscathed, but a flight of F-35s with mid-air refueling support would be heading back to finish the job within three hours from now.
Seated in one of the Battle Box’s rooms, which had been hastily turned into a guest chamber at the last minute, the admiral and his Australian colleague stood up at the sight of General Percival and his entourage as they came in through the entrance. Without hesitation, he took turns with Colonel Robertson to shake hands with the general and his staff.
"It’s a pleasure to meet you, sir," Admiral Cleburne shook the man so hard that it nearly pushed him off balance. "I’m Admiral Philip Cleburne, USN Battlegroup Commander. This here is Colonel Woomera Robertson, RAA 2nd/14th Regimental Commander."
The infantry man got his turn to shake hands with General Percival, with a grip tighter than the admiral’s.
"I’ve heard all about that raid your people pulled off over Alor Setar," Percival finally said. "It is a miracle that the future is with us."
"Well general, we’ll have more miracles to show you yet," the admiral spoke with a typical General American accent, though there was a slight hint of a southern drawl in his voice. "By tomorrow night we’ll put those Japanese airfields in Thailand and Indochina out of action, permanently."
"What about my men fighting on the ground?" Percival asked. "How will you aid them?"
That was when Colonel Robertson came into play. "In addition to Admiral Cleburne’s supporting aircraft, we will have at least four troops from B Squadron in Kuala Kangsar by tomorrow. Two Australian Air Warfare Destroyers will make the approach to Singapore from Christmas Island tomorrow, and in a fortnight, two RAAF F-22 squadrons should be arriving from there as well."
That seemed to re-assure the General Commanding Officer (GCO) of Malaya, even if he barely understood what an F-22 or an AWD was. Admiral Cleburne was smiling, but deep behind his façade was utter contempt for this frail man. First thing he asks is our help, he thought, not advices to stop the Japanese dead in their tracks, or even what will transpire.
He remembered that line from Wikipedia now. In spite of instructions from Winston Churchill for prolonged resistance, General Percival surrendered the entire garrison of Singapore. The contemporary general, oblivious to Cleburne’s thoughts, smiled back with warmth tarred by weeks of commanding the Malayan front.
"Gentlemen, now let’s go have some tea and biscuits at the Raffles Hotel," Percival warmly said. "Can’t be always cooped up in this stuffy bunker, now could you?"
Admiral Cleburne nodded, along with Colonel Robertson. "Sure, we like to, General Percival. There’s still a long day stretching in front of us." And a long war too.
Deep down, he could not believe it. They were in the middle of a war, the whole joint under threat by the Japanese and the general was asking them for to go have some tea! If it was in an American high school, Percival would be the sort of guy who everyone calls a chickenshit and generally gets bullied all the time. If only Churchill knew what this guy would do on 15 February, 1942…
Part 3: Correlation of Forces
Grik-Kuala Kangsar Battlezone, 16 00 Hours, 22 December 1941
Pushing down his combat goggles and switching his rifle’s selector to burst shots, Lieutenant Clinton Wong of ‘A’ troop then toggled his communicator onto the troop tactical network and began his orders.
"All units – advance at all costs. Suppress any Japanese positions along the way. Lenggong is our target and we will reach there by tonight!"
"This is Kangaroo Lead Explorer. We acknowledge that, over. "
"Kangaroo Assistant is ready for action, over."
"Kangaroo Buttress acknowledges that, over."
The industrial staccato of six thirty-millimeter Tenix autocannons lashing out in a furious wall of lead echoed through the afternoon air. The lead ASLAV-26 moved across a muddy trail just as its twin autocannons spat two hundred rounds into a platoon of Japanese infantrymen rushing at its position. The eight-wheeled armored vehicle lurched to a stop, and then almost as quickly drove forward.
Two other ASLAV-26s followed, which were accompanied by a moderately-armed squad. The Australians’ basic infantry weapon, the AICW, looked big and unwieldy on first sight. Thousands of hours of drills and training had seen to it that the men wielding them knew their weapon inside out, but Lieutenant Wong had his doubts whether it was a wise choice to have it as Australia’s main infantry assault weapon. An old F-88 Steyr would beat this beast any day, he curtly thought as bullets glanced off the ASLAV he was hiding behind.
The ASLAV-26s’ autocannons ripped every tree, grass and dirt that were sheltering or just even suspected of holding Japanese soldiers into tiny little pieces. Behind the advancing vehicles of ‘A’ Troop were troops from the 3rd/2nd Punjab Regiment, a contemporary unit that would had pull off an ambush on the Japanese a few miles down the Grik road later today. The Punjabi troops were advancing and firing at the same time, more often than not taking a casualty or two. Unlike him or his men, they did not possess Kevlar bulletproof vests, assault rifles or tac nets. Nor did they have any sort of access to the drone currently orbiting this part of Malaya.
The muffled whumps of three 40mm grenade launchers springing into action could be heard over the jackhammering din, followed two seconds later by fragmentation explosion over a Japanese machine gun nest the ASLAVs missed. Single shots of 5.56mm rounds zipped here and there, each bullet hitting a target with near-godlike accuracy. The Punjabi men began advancing behind the second ASLAV, encouraged by the heavy support they had just received.
About six hours ago, ‘A’ Troop was hastily flown in from Singapore to the airfield at Ipoh, which was several hundred kilometers to the back. Being tasked as a reconnaissance troop, evidently they would be the first to fight the enemy. That was happening now, and the other three troops of the B Squadron, 2nd/14th LHR weren’t far behind. B, C and D troops, the lieutenant thought, firing at a Japanese unfortunate enough to be caught in the open. That means six more ASLAV-26s, plus three Metalstorm-wielding ASLAV variants.
Fighting up a mountain road was easier said than done, but he had lost none of his men yet. The Punjabi contemporaries had twenty dead so far, and they were still going strong, their morale bolstered by the arrival of Clint’s troop. Overhead, a pair of F-35Cs from the George Bush roared to the northwest. The jet planes had been doing this since yesterday night, working on the increasingly poor environment with utmost dedication. If the reports were correct, they were probably heading towards the airfield at Sungei Petani. Butterworth airfield, which was a lot closer to the Grik-Kuala Kangsar road, was now practically non-existent, having been on the receiving end of a sub-kiloton penetrator strike eight hours back.
Clint shook his thoughts out as more than a hundred Japanese soldiers poured out of the jungle on ‘A’ Troop’s right flank, all of them yelling that inane war cry and charging with bayonets. An officer was leading the rush with his katana, hollering at his men to go forward and kill some white men, only to be sent to his ancestors when a 40mm grenade struck at his feet and detonated, releasing a shower of explosive fragments in every direction. Before a fraction of a minute passed, the ASLAVs’ main armaments were turned against the new threat.
"Keep on firing at those little bastards," Lieutenant Wong ordered. "Go, go, go!"
In effect, even in the vicinity, ‘A’ Troop’s ASLAV-26s looked like they were pouring rivers of solid fire onto the Japanese intruders. Most of them burst into a gory mess of red mist, while some others were knocked down by the supporting infantry weapons. The leading officer was gone, save for his lower torso and the lower half of his katana. In three minutes, it was all over. None of the attacking Japanese troops had survived in any form.
"Will you look at that," Staff Sergeant Major Tung said over the troop frequency. "Its nothing like a good piece of hickory though."
"Alright people, let’s can the chatter and resume our advance."
The Punjabi soldiers, some of them situated behind him, had the look of unbelievable awe on their combat-worn faces. They were advancing alongside Kangaroo Lead Explorer at the moment; their Lee Enfield bolt-action rifles trained at the jungle from whence the Japanese popped out. Clint did a quick check on his troop, relieved that there wasn’t a single 21C casualty. Yet.
The wonders of modern warfare, he ghoulishly grinned.
USS George H.W. Bush, 17 25 Hours, 22 December 1941
Just some nine miles off the coast of western Malaya, the George Bush was cruising at half her top speed in the Straits of Malacca. Any mischief the Imperial Japanese Navy in this part of Asia would be swiftly dealt with, thanks to her long-range radar and air group. As a precaution against enemy submarines lurking in the area, the Schofield traveled on her portside. Combining their radars and drone coverage would create an impregnable defensive wall only modern weaponry could hope to penetrate.
Captain Gregory Howery watched from a screen in the CIC showing a pair of F-35 Lightning IIs making their return on the flight deck. They had just finished the attack run on the Japanese airfield in Sungei Petani, the action all captured on video by an orbiting drone and sent back into the Bush’s memory core. Radarscopes had picked up nothing hostile in the area, and so the threat boards were green.
"Sir," the communications suite operator said, "We’d just received an encrypted message from Admiral Cleburne."
"Alright son, now just let me see this."
He tapped a few fingers on his own keyboard before a text message popped on the flat screen. Penetrator strikes success. Japanese stopped dead literally, still a possibility of an amphib landing in eastern Malaya though. Prep the carrier and destroyer to return to Singapore for briefing on new operation in the Gulf of Thailand. R&R afterwards.
Gulf of Thailand, he thought.
There were only two possibilities on what such an operation might be. Either they were going to expand the drone coverage well into Thailand and Indochina, and future air cover as well, or the battlegroup was going on a ship-hunting cruise. Both were just as likely, but Captain Howery remembered that the admiral said something about sinking the entire Japanese fleet in a one-sided battle…
"Commander Hunt," he called out.
The carrier’s XO stepped out of the dark. "Yes sir?"
"I want you to go prep the ship for return to Singapore at full speed. And Lieutenant Chestier, I want you to inform the Schofield about the return trip, now. People, lets make it happen."
Riga, 19 00 Hours, 22 December 1941
The Hermann Goering battlegroup had just entered the Gulf of Riga over four hours ago after sailing from the port of Wilhelmshaven. Most notable of these were the battlegroup’s three landing crafts, which were as big as a cruise liner. Two of them, the Siegfried and Fredrick, carried a total of thirty E-50 panzers, fifteen E-10 armored personnel carriers and ten 20mm Vierlung air defense vehicles, all this belonging to the mechanized detachment of the Wehrmacht 7th Regiment. The lead landing craft, Rommel, carried the regiment’s core, its two artillery battalions and their organic air support, six Überbrücker jump jets and nine FW 1109 gunships.
The city was formerly the capital of Latvia but a year after the Second World War had started, the Soviets annexed and occupied the country. Then a year later, they were replaced by the Germans, who proved to be as brutal as their previous Russian occupiers. If this world war ended like it was supposed to, Riga would exchange hands with the Soviets once more. Oberst Wilhelm Strasse did not know that, because in his world the Baltic regions had been part of the Greater German Reich for more than three decades. Pacing on the main deck of the Rommel, he wondered if the Soviets could be beaten into submission now. The current Reich had failed to capture Moscow before the dreaded General Winter came into play, and if the given reports were true, then every Wehrmacht and SS unit had been pushed out of Moscow’s sight earlier this month. They were now fighting a retreat, even if the Fuhrer said otherwise.
"A fine weather today, Herr Oberst," somebody spoke from behind.
He immediately recognized the voice without the need to turn and have a look. "Not too bad, Oberstleutnant, but it will be much more pleasant if it weren’t snowing. So how goes the unloading."
"It won’t be long before the unloading process is complete."
"Good," the older man answered. "What about the necessary transportation to the front?"
"It is being taken care of, Herr Oberst. In six days’ time, we should be able to load up all our equipment and head to Novgorod, where the tracks will change to lead us to Demyansk…"
"Then we can start slaughtering the Bolsheviks," the oberst finished the line for him. "We will blitz Moscow and decapitate the bear’s ability to resist the Reich. A simple yet magnificent plan, achievable if enough pressure is applied in the quickest manner."
Admiral Hans Konigsberg sat in his own private cabin onboard the Hermann Goering, before he reached for his secret pack of Cuban cigars stashed beneath the bed. They used to flow into the Reich in truckloads from Britain, but that was before the Americans included Cuba in their Monroe Doctrine Policy. It was quickly enforced behind a strict naval patrol between the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean and the Atlantic.
A big sham it was, he thought. They left South America out when they could, should have included them in.
For now, that little historical point was redundant as the German admiral lit the cigar and chewed it hard, contemplating on his next moves to counter the enemy. Oberst Strasse had agreed that a speedy blitz on Moscow before the Soviets had time to react would close down the Eastern Front. Stalin and Beria must be eliminated before they can evacuate to Kuibyshev. Once the Bolshevik leadership was destroyed, any further resistance would be short and poorly-led.
While the oberst led the 7th Regiment against Moscow, the Hermann Goering battlegroup would pummel the city of Leningrad into submission, starting with the use of thermobaric bombs on Russian convoys heading across Lake Lagoda. Neither the Fuhrer nor anyone else in the Third Reich’s leadership had heard of this plan yet, but the approval seal from the SS-Reichsfuhrer had allowed him to prepare his strategies without hindrance.
Leningrad and Moscow were two symbolic junctures in the Soviet Union. The first because it was the home of their so-called Glorious Revolution, and the second was obvious enough: the capital heart of Bolshevik Russia. Once their defenses were systematically destroyed by his forces, they could move and captured them; thereby not only gaining two strategic targets and closing down the Eastern Front at the same time, but it would degrade the Russians’ morale.
Why they not taken the lessons of the First World War in heart, he wondered. Fighting a war on two fronts is a recipe for defeat.
He sighed. Defending the Fatherland came first and he would have to make do with whatever was at his disposal. The loss of the two SSBNs was staggering; one could go mad thinking of the squandered opportunities. Even with just one of them, this war would not last another week. London, Moscow and even Washington D.C. would be glowing radioactive rubbles, though that might take time without satellite guidance.
It also led him to wonder what he was doing here in the first place. This was not supposed to be his war, and despite what Himmler had said, the SS Berliner can go burn in hell for bringing stranding the entire battlegroup here. Anyway, the war he knew did not have a Western Front from 1941 onwards or a North African theatre either. Feldmarschall Erwin Rommel was fighting down there, instead of participating in the assault on Moscow like it was in Konigsberg’s time. The reports given to him had mentioned only one stunning victory after another against British forces in North Africa.
At least all is good down there, he smiled.
The roar of three He 385s on a patrol flight above his ships did not bother him, but the thought of them ripping into whole enemy squadrons of propeller-driven planes like wild vultures gave the German admiral some comfort. The Allies will not be able to counter them, and there was also a strong possibility that the United States would be knocked out before its industrial muscle came into play. They just had to act fast.
Now, he wondered what his past self was doing. Admiral Hans Konigsberg had served onboard a U-Boat as a lowly Fahnrich zur See during his world’s Second World War, first sinking Allied ships in the North Atlantic and then a year after the 1940 Armistice, his ship went on hunting Bolshevik warships in the Arctic Ocean. By the end of that war, he was a Kapitan zur See. Slowly, over the next two decades, he rose onto the rank of an Admiral. By 1973, he was commanding the Reich’s first carrier battlegroup, which led him to this state…
The admiral sighed again, puffing a large ring of smoke across the cabin. Unlike Kapitan Joachim Scholer, he did not have a family due to the single-minded pursuit of his career, so there was nothing to miss about home. Not a single thing at all.
Part 4: Correlation of Forces (II)
USS George H.W. Bush, 00 25 Hours, 23 December 1941
"Captain, we’d just received word from the HMAS Quiberon," the supercarrier’s executive officer – Commander Daniel Hunt – announced over the vidlink. "The Australian AWDs are finally in sight of Singapore."
Captain Gregory Howery slumped back on his command chair. "Okay, Hunt. Anything else on our threat bubble?"
"Nothing Japanese within 300 miles," he shrugged. "Looks like that penetrator strike did really hit ‘em hard, though AWACS and a BED-2 drone flying out of Ipoh have picked up some air activity along the Thai border, presumably survivors from Singora. Two patrolling F-35s have already been vectored onto their position."
"Alright, I want you to forward that message to Admiral Cleburne and also tell him that everything here is A-okay."
"Already done and done, Captain," he replied without hesitation.
"Good. Go get yourself some R&R then, if there’s nothing else. It’s kinda late and there’s going to be a long week ahead of us, and you’ve been working for two straight days anyway."
"Thank you, Cap’n. Over and out." The PDA’s small video screen turned black, leaving the Captain Howery to mull over his thoughts and the Singaporean night outside the flag bridge’s blast windows.
The Bush’s captain smiled. Of all the naval XOs he knew of, Commander Hunt was the best. He was always two-three steps in front of you, never late in nearly every single thing. He had the potential to command a supercarrier, but there were two problems with that. First, Hunt was very dedicated to his current job and secondly, they’d been thrown seventy-six years back into the past. He highly doubts that the current US Navy would allow a black man to command one of their warships, even if it was a goddamn frigate. And even if they did, for God only knew what reason, he wouldn’t want to in the first place.
Thinking back on the original news Hunt had just announced, the Bush’s captain wondered what was going to happen. The AWDs were more than capable of defending Singapore from air attacks or naval assault, but what was going to happen to Christmas Island itself? Her three squadrons of F-22s, her garrison and AWDs were being transferred to the defense of Singapore. Probably they would just be replaced by troops and squadrons from Queensland…
It came down to Singapore then. If the Japanese captured it like in the ‘original’ – it brought chuckles whenever he thought of it – history, they would effectively be able to create a chokepoint in this part of Asia that belongs only to them. When that happened, they would be able to use it as a strategic port from whence their ships and planes could attack and consolidate their hold over this part of Asia. There would be widespread massacres of Allied POWs and Chinese civilians as well, and it would be worse than in Bosnia or the ‘live’ Jihadi beheadings that were so occasional in conflicts of the 21st Century.
Admiral Cleburne had been under a lot of pressure ever since the supercarrier anchored alongside the rest of the battlegroup at Changi Harbor six hours ago. Currently, the admiral was having a little chit-chat with the contemporary British commanders at Raffles Hotel. He should be back about soon, but the new atmosphere of tension won’t just disappear. In addition to being stuck in the past and with no way of returning home, the Bush CVBG and every 21C American forces in Queensland now had to follow orders from contemporary Washington.
The ‘temp directive came to the admiral via Coalition HQ in Queensland half an hour after he had sent the message for CVN-77 to return. The message had stated that the carrier battlegroup will cruise for Pearl at full speed, and no more offensive actions were to be taken until after ‘everything was sorted out’. The captain fondly remembered the conversation he had with the admiral on the ship’s cafeteria before the battlegroup mission briefing four hours back. Dusk had just then fully swept the tropical Southeast Asian sky, and there was nothing to be seen but a half moon and a few flickering stars.
"Godammnit Greg!" he cursed. "That strike would have struck every single major surface combatant in the Combined Fleet out of the water and bring the war much closer to an end! Those ‘temps in the Hill don’t even know what are our capabilities in the first place."
"Well we can always go ahead without their consent..."
"And be denounced as rogues and deserters?" Admiral Cleburne finished it for him, before giving in to a long sigh. "As of current, we can’t afford to piss off those guys back in CONUS. That’s our country right there, even if it isn’t in the 21st Century. Washington is pretty desperate for the battlegroup to come home. Fuck me, but they didn’t even want us to help MacArthur in the Philippines. The least we could do before we head for home however is to strike at one of the Japanese’ naval bases in this region. Specifically, Indochina."
"If I remembered my history right, weren’t their warships mostly anchored in the Marianas if they were outside of Japan?"
"Not at all," the admiral threw the light on. "They’ve got at least six Type KD3A/B subs anchored in Cam Ranh Bay now, but they will leave in six days time. Pity we can’t nail those KD4 and 5s that will arrive on the 27th, but it’ll do. But probably the biggest fish of them all is Vice Admiral Kondo’s Second Fleet. Thirteen ships in total will be laying anchor in that harbor in about two days – three cruisers, two battleships and eight destroyers. If all of them are down below in Davy Jones’ locker, it’ll further cripple not only their operations in Malaya, but also in Borneo and the Philippines."
"Cam Ranh Bay?" Captain Howery remarked.
"Yep, that’s up northeast in Vietnam. That’s from where the Japanese invaded Malaya. It would’ve been devastated in 1944 by Task Group 38, but we’re going to make this happen earlier and save Admiral Halsey and his men a lot of trouble."
Captain Gregory Howery wondered just how Admiral Cleburne was going to convince contemporary Washington to let his battlegroup go for this one mission. Probably think his mad, he thought.
Thirty-one and a half hours from now, they will set sail for the Indochinese edges of the South China Sea and begin Operation FAST DRAW. Once that was accomplished, they would head back home via Australia. A great plan that had the chance to go haywire anywhere from start to end, but the Japanese won’t be able to counter the battlegroup’s weapons, the SSNs and the drone coverage. They aren’t exactly the Chinese…
He immediately got out of his command chair and took a great stride towards the carrier’s supermarket located below deck. The self-service store contained everything you can find in a normal 21C supermarket with the exemption of alcohol, due to the Navy’s strict policy of being dry at all times. Captain Howery was more in the mood for a Prozac bar and a cup of coffee from the cafeteria.
Thirty-one and a half hours more, he yawned.
Four hours before…
In the George H.W. Bush’s conference room, the captains and executive officers of the 21C battlegroup sat on office chairs surrounding a video wall. Attached along the grey metal bulkheads and exposed piping above were a triplet of fluorescent lamps that shone light beige instead of the usual white commonly used in office spaces. A barely-visible visual map of Southeast Asia could be seen, and soon it was blocked by the figure of Admiral Philip Cleburne.
The lights were quickly shut off as the admiral side-stepped to his right, allowing the audience of battlegroup commanders to witness the visual display. In turn, the map rapidly refocused itself on the southeastern coast of Vietnam – currently known as French Indochina in the world of 1941.
"This is Cam Ranh Bay, gentlemen," Cleburne steadily began. "Some of you who majored in Twentieth Century Military History back in Annapolis would recognize it as the major naval port used by the Navy during Vietnam. Historically, the bay had been recognized as a strategic military area since the start of the Twentieth Century. It was from here that the Russian fleet sailed to their doom in the Battle of Tsushima, and more recently, the Japanese had used it as a base to stage their invasion of Malaya."
He paused to clear his throat.
"Between the 24th and the 28th, there will be approximately thirteen surface warships and six submarines anchored there. The submarines will move out on the 28th, while the warships will set sail sometime early in January next year. Most of you know that I’ve been aching to crush the Japanese Combined Fleet the day after we’d all transited back in time. We still can, but apparently news had gotten onto Washington D.C. of our presence and now they’re screaming at me to bring the whole battlegroup home on the double."
"Sir, we don’t have to listen to them right?" asked one of the executive officers – Commander Gayle Turner, USS Schofield.
"Nope we don’t, commander," the admiral smiled, not in a pleasant way. "We’ll just be revoked of our citizenships and the rights to be called an American. That’s how desperate Washington is for us to be back."
"Excuse me Admiral, but that’s a very stupid idea," Captain Eagle Duong, USS Duck, said. "We’ll come a long way to winning this war for them if they’ll allow us the autonomy to do our jobs, which of current is sinking every Japanese warship in this theatre."
Admiral Cleburne sighed. "I can’t blame them. They just don’t know what this battlegroup, indeed the future, is capable of. And I’m not intending to disobey their orders anytime soon, gentlemen, though if they try to remove any ‘Americans of color’ serving onboard my ships, I can assure you that won’t be followed. Of course, you can’t forget that most of the contemporary USN warships have been knocked out a few weeks ago at Pearl. Hence this deal with Cam Ranh Bay…"
"If we can’t strike the Japanese’ capital ships in Hashirajima Naval Base, we can at least cripple their Southern Force. It would undoubtedly screw up their plans for Malaya and Borneo, give them a warning of what we can and will do to them and come back home with a victory to gloat about. Not that there’s any home to talk about when we are stuck seventy-six years in the past, but home nonetheless."
"Two days from now, at 08 00 hours," he said, "the George H.W. Bush will set sail out of Changi Harbor. The Zumwalts and the Virginias will be playing escorts, while the two Burkes will remain here to guard the Backbone and Singapore. The RAAF’s F-22s should settle in to bolster air defenses around this part of the peninsula by then. By 19 00 hours, we should be in position to launch Operation FAST DRAW from one hundred miles south-south-west of Binh Ba Island. Using drone coverage, the Virginias will launch their first penetrator salvo against the two battleships lying here and here."
A laser pointer from behind the seats shifted across the map on the pictorial of two large, oval-shaped objects identified as the Kongo and Haruna. The beam of red light paused for a moment before it moved to another spot.
"Once that’s done, the Zumwalts will target port facilities here, here and here with one sub-kiloton penetrator each. The Virginias will then launch a second salvo against the three cruisers parked here, here and here. A flight group from the Bush loaded with shipkillers will then immediately do a flyby over the eight destroyers stationed here after the rest of the Southern Force has been decimated. After that, we’ll head back for Singapore. Any questions?"
The room was as quiet as a mouse, safe for the vibrating humming emitted by the visual projector.
"I’ll take that as no questions then," Admiral Cleburne amicably responded.
Latvia, 10 09 Hours, 23 December 1941
A FW 466 transport helicopter took the Fuhrer, his secretary Martin Bormann and two major players of the Nazi Hierarchy – Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering and SS-Reichsfuhrer Heinrich Himmler - from the Wolfsschanze in East Prussia back to the port of Riga. All of them, except Himmler, were impressed just by the mere presence of the twin-rotor aircraft; Goering was even babbling about the need to learn and build more of these marvelous contraptions.
"Imagine it, mein Fuhrer," he said. "Just hundreds of these ‘Hubschraubers’ flying our troops into Moscow or London would instantly render most of their ground defenses impotent."
"Yes Reichsmarschall," Hitler agreed. "But let us leave that for Todt to work out. We are on our way to see this wondrous future ship named after you."
The Luftwaffe chief’s face lightened up like the dawn of a new day. Though his face was a blank, Himmler was seething like a boiling pot deep inside. Anything that would feed the fat fool’s contemptuous ego was bound to anger him. Even though in that other history his bombers were responsible for knocking Britain out of the war at Dunkirk, it did not happen here. Worse, his promise of no bombs falling on German soil had been broken one two many times. It was a wonder that the Fuhrer hadn’t sacked him yet; probably because both of them were best friends.
The Hubschrauber flew across the forests and railroads once belonging to the Soviet Union with speed that would amaze some. Three hours passed before it was hovering above the port city of Riga. The future battlegroup were arrayed across the harbor in a straight row, with the Hermann Goering in the middle. The aircraft carrier was obvious due to its humongous size and its long flattop deck. The transport craft slowly decreased in height, the rotors slowing their spin and the ground nearer for its wheels to touch.
"Very impressive," Hitler looked out of a window. "There is your ship, Hermann. Truly, it is the work only Aryans of the Thousand-Year Reich could ever accomplish!"
"I concur," the Luftwaffe chief acceded, before turning his attention to the SS chief. "You have met this Admiral Konigsberg, Reichsfuhrer. What sort of a man is he?"
"A good son of the Fatherland," he gloomily responded.
"I shall be delighted to speak with this admiral then," said Hitler. "It is a good day for Germany, and for every fighting Aryan!"
"I like it," Hitler boomed. "I like it very much. And no doubt, with weapons like this, the war has surely been won."
They were strolling through the flight deck, draped in thick coats of fur to keep them warm from the Latvian weather. Every flight technician, pilot and sailor on deck stood to attention as the Fuhrer and his entourage passed by. For them, it was an honor to meet the original Fuhrer in person, the one who had led the Third Reich to greatness in their history. The Reichsmarschall was inspecting a He 395 a few meters behind them, awed by the aircraft’s sleek edges and flying wing design while the SS chief was having a friendly chat with the Kapitan Scholer. Martin Bormann had been silent since the whole trip began, even as he strolled across the flight deck with the Fuhrer.
"Yes, Mein Fuhrer," Admiral Konigsberg, walking beside him, answered. "This ship was built in 1973, and like her predecessor, she is powered by a nuclear engine. Literally, she can sail around the world for nine years, with the need to stop in a port only when it’s replenishing her stockpile of supplies and ammunition, or replacing one of her aircraft and pilots."
"Marvelous," the Fuhrer exclaimed. "This means that not even the Americans are safe from our wrath!"
The German admirals’ face contorted in intricacy. That was precisely what he wanted to avoid, ever since the battlegroup was thrown back thirty-four years into the past. They would deplete their powerful weapons against the American center of power in Washington or their shipyards in Norfolk, but what then? The United States would rapidly build and rebuild her war industries, doubling her efforts against Germany and then the Fatherland would meet the same fate as Japan. If there was no Britain, however…
"Mein Fuhrer," Admiral Konigsberg said. "There are plans I’d like to discuss with you, some of which I have been thinking over ever since our arrival here. Would you mind to come into my cabin for some coffee and biscuits?"
"I certainly would not mind," cried the Fuhrer. "Anything for a man who would bring victory for Germany!"
South China Sea, 19 00 Hours, 24 December 1941
Despite the planned positioning of long-range strike forces to begin the operation’s first phase at nineteen hundred hours, the USS California was an hour early. Her sister ship, Washington, laid ten meters to her portside. Both of them were submerged at a depth of three hundred and ninety feet, readying for the strike despite the threat from hostile aerial or naval forces. Their threat boards were empty, but the orbiting BED-1 drones, launched upon arrival, provided much more detailed coverage of their intended targets.
"Weapons, are we armed yet?" asked Captain Ryan Leach as he paced the control deck of the USS California.
The weapons officer agreed.
"Missiles one and two ready for launch, skipper. Target locked and verified."
Despite them ready to fire, the attack would not begin until after every warship was in place. Thus, for an hour, the crews of both nuclear-powered attack submarines idled with fear even though it was remote. Currently two-hundred feet beneath the sea, and with engines as quiet as a mouse, they would not be detected by the Japanese. Still it was a tense one hour. Ninety miles southwest of Binh Ba Island, they were arranging a strike that would rival Pearl Harbor in intensity and scope.
Then the signal came through for Operation FAST DRAW to proceed. Without hesitation, both subs increased their elevation all the way to firing depth. The cameras linked onto their photonic masts revealed an island identified as Ap Binh Ba. Sensing that it was safe to do so, with her sonar suites showing no signs of underwater hostiles, Captain Leach finally gave the order.
"Alright weapons," Captain Leach said. "Fire away!"
"Aye, aye skipper."
Within two seconds, four cruise missiles ejected from both submarines’ VLS tubes engaged their first-stage rockets to propel them out of the water. When they finally broke out of the sea surface, their wings rapidly unfolded and their turbofans propelled them further into the night sky. They were Tomahawk Block VIs, commonly known as sub-kiloton penetrators, the latest in a long line of American-manufactured land attack missiles. Unlike their all-weather capable conventional payload-carrying forebears, these Tomahawks carried a 0.5 kt shaped-charged warhead capable of penetrating four thousand meters of soil and reinforced concrete, though this was configurable due to their upgraded impact sensors. Back in 2017, the general public would recognize them as the first pure fusion weapon. The US Department of Defense had painstakingly made sure that was the case, handing out to every military website and researcher slightly modified general specifications on the penetrators. They didn’t want them to think that the United States was actively using nuclear weapons, even if that was the case.
In five minutes, guided by a pair of drones orbiting one-hundred and seventy feet in the atmosphere, they furiously sped past the double-lobed island of Binh Ba and the southern entrance to Cam Ranh Bay. A pair of barely-visible lasers painted the top mast of the Kongo and Haruna, feeding back the data onto the penetrators’ TERCOM radar guidance systems. To anyone gazing upon their arrival, it would seem as if a pair of comets were about to slam right into the harbor.
The sailors working onboard Kongo’s deck did not have time to sound an alarm as the first penetrator sliced through its 2.75" deck. It detonated just above the keel, instantly vaporizing every sailor in close proximity and blasting a big hole at the bottom of the ship. The second penetrator slammed into the forward 14" gun turrets, only to explode in all its brilliance after slicing through 5" of armor and touching off a massive secondary explosion in the ammunition chambers. Night had turned into day as the battleship was engulfed in the birth of a new sun, with the same happening on the Haruna.
The illumination lasted three minutes, but by then flames were leaping across the smoldering wreckages of what was once His Imperial Japanese Majesty’s Ships. A total of two thousand, seven hundred and twenty men died without knowing what hit them. The whole base was alerted by then, with air raid sirens wailing and soldiers rushing to man their posts. The survivors of the 22nd Air Flotilla in Thudaumot and Soc Trang were warned of the strike eight minutes after the two battleships of Vice-Admiral Kondo’s Southern Force were obliterated in a mini super nova.
All of that was rendered moot when three more penetrators shrieked towards the port facilities and anchored submarines, blasting them into a million superheated atoms.