Thursday, February 25, 2010

The General is indisposed

Somewhere in the Hessian scramble of states, a great army sits muffled against the winter cold. They are depressed as they seem to have stumbled on the threshold of a complete victory. Hesse-Seewald and Germania with British aid have stopped their advance. The cold, iron logic of the situation requires them to fall back on their ample depot near Frankfurter. Around their fitfully smoking campfires, the men are glad that the ground is firming up from the last winter storm. Marching in frozen mush is horribly uncomfortable, and the damage to their kit has all the sergeants practically incoherent. In their iced tents, they listen to the clatter and rumble of the endless wagon traffic bringing hay for the horses and taking the latest casualties ... most with frostbitten toes through the hills.

A low growl of noise seems unending from the thousands of men and their various implements and animals. Through this constant muted cacophony the sentries’ challenges and the clatter of couriers hooves occasionally places a stronger note in the mix. Tonight, however, some of the men at the fires stand up to watch, and some of the men raise their heads from whatever half frozen knapsack serves as their pillow. There is a rush of couriers, a cavalry horn sounds assemble, and staff officers and Brigadiers are seen hurrying about.

In his commandeered manor, General Chevert is irritably listening to an agitated Intendant Bastille. “This couldn’t have waited until the morning?” the General grumbles peevishly.

“Our own agents confirm the broad outlines of their warning,” Bastille asserts. “There could five or six thousand already mustered and more coming. It would be big enough to lob a lot of bombs into the depot, even if we keep them well out the supplies.”

“Really,” General Chevert replies, “shopkeepers, apprentices, farmhands, and the odd old noble who thinks himself a general!” He snorts disdainfully, “these seem hardly a threat.”

“You spend your summers on campaign, mon General,” one of Bastille’s aides intervenes. “These Frankszonians are weird. They pride themselves on their status as a Free State and as the traditional locale for crowning the Emperor. Their summer cook outs are accompanied by competitions in drill, manual of arms, and even marksmanship.”

“And I suspect that a lot of these wounded and prisoners going into Frankfurt are small units of Germanians or British, heavy on sergeants to provide the nerves for the force,” Bastille continues.

“Wounded and Prisoners to Frankfurter?” The General finally shows alarm. “They were supposed to concentrate on Mainz!”

“And, my agent pointed out another concern, General,” Bastille grabbed his advantage. “Many of the reliable and experienced Frankszonian units are involved in this affair down in Alesgarden. The people of Frankszonia are mostly Protestant and support the Elector against the Emperor. There is a good chance that some of the regiments in Frankfurter will turn coat. If they do, our foes could have twenty thousand men, many veteran regiments within yards of the Depot before any response could be made.”

“And Stagonia?” Chevert required.

“They definitely were involved in both the zombie affairs and in this recent mutiny which drew reliable forces out of town through the Stadt Wald ... and possibly in getting them mixed in with this Alesgarden Affair with the Reich Duchy of Beerstein.”

All of the aides now looked worried. Stagonia had the forces and the position to endanger all communications with Vienna and also would be a cancer in any defense of Bohemia. Since Aftschaftenberg was also in turmoil, the entire Gallian position could be fractured.

“What have you done already?” The General asked Bastille. Bastille was an excellent staff officer, and he had not shirked the firing line when his turn had come. The General was sure that the Baron had used his position to start some response already.

“I’ve sent the Marquis Hottatrot on with an escort of Hussars and Dragoons under Col. Mirage,” Bastille began, and defended his impertinence (which had already irritated the General), “ .... his men move fastest and the risk of a preplanned ambush could be best met his alert gifts for this sort of thing.”

“What’s done is done. What else?”

“The rest of the Frankszonian Nobles will be sent on back tomorrow with a flying wing of cavalry, light guns, and some freikorps.”

“I assume that you will accompany them, my Lord,” Chevert nodded.

“I suspect that the Hurtshog would cheerfully reinforce our depot guards with his own Lieb Garde and Cuirassiers in my absence, “ the Intendant acknowledged wryly. “It would be more efficient to steal our depot in one coup rather than the blood sucking they’ve used so far.”

“I am sure that his pet fop will write glowing reports of his sacrifice, energy, and dedication in service to our King and his Empress,” Chevert reflected. “I wonder what his real goal is?”

“Stagonia,” Bastille asserted.

Chevert looked at him for a moment and then back to the map table. “No, my lord Intendant,” he mused. “Stagonia is too far, too strong, and he knows we’d stop it until Stagonia stops sending us men, money, and supplies. Also, this whole thing stinks of that cabal’s little schemes. They’re trying to flush somebody out.”

There was a moment’s pause while everyone considered the irritations of the grating effect of the petty games of petty German princelings. One of the Intendant’s aides wondered aloud, “and where is Roquefort now?”



Bluebear Jeff said...

Vile Stagonia is up to no good . . . not that they ever do any good. Every vile Stagonian enjoys "dirty tricks" and nasty surprises and (most especially) treachery.

-- Saxe-Bearstein true sayings

A J said...

There's trouble in the wind...

Martin said... seems that once again the stockpot of Frankzonia, stoked by the fires of discontent, threatens to boil over and stain the floor of the kitchen of History!

But who is stoking the fire and who's hand is stirring the pot? Will too many cooks spoil the broth? How many metaphores can be squeezed into a single comment?!

Capt Bill said...

Vile, vile, vile I say...

Frankfurter said...

Not to worry, after all the Hurtshog is coming back with wings and fries ...