tagSci-Fi & FantasyLife as a New Hire Ch. 37

Life as a New Hire Ch. 37

byFinalStand©

This story plays fast and loose with Ancient History and Linguistics; be warned.

There is something worse than waking up and not knowing where you are: you could wake up and not know who you are.

Editing magic performed by KJ24 and Shyqash, plus contributions by the regular gang of brigands and neer-do-wells.

There is a bit of mangling of the Iliad going on. I apologize to Homer and the countless singers before him who carried the Iliad down through the dark centuries until the Greeks figured out how writing works.

Note: This chapter is heavy with the 'Behind the Scenes' stuff.


*****

(Back Home with a New Team - one week after Rome)

If you ask any entity for something you already know they aren't going to give you, but you do so believing their denial equates to your freedom, I suppose you only have yourself to blame if they deliver. It was totally rational for me to assume that if I asked, nay demanded of the taskforce sponsors a semi-autonomous status inside the greater geopolitical arena, the nations I was acquainted with would refuse.

After all, I remained an inexperienced young man with a relatively unknown and unspectacular intellectual career. And I WANTED out...or, more like maybe a vacation, R&R, or a Spa Weekend...filled with naked women... well, Pamela suggested that I had a pathetic work ethic unless women were involved, so a productive R&R would need naked women.

I had a new and profound respect for the people in the services who spend week after week after week in hostile territory. Four whole days in Europe were enough to make me want to throw in the towel. Colour Sgt. Chaz did offer me some comfort. He pointed out that I had managed to be in four firefights within 72 hours in an otherwise peaceful part of the world (Central Europe) [the Metro station on the first afternoon, the club later that night, the inn the next morning and the bloodbath in Romania the evening of the third day].

And we managed to avoid a firefight with Alal's people in Rome. Statistically, it was safer to be in the Eastern Ukraine than standing next to me. Chaz claimed that he'd spent weeks in Afghanistan feeling more at ease than he did working this assignment. He then told me that while serving with me, he had no doubt that he was making a world of difference. That the unease was something he, and every other professional military specialist, could deal with if they were on a mission they believed in.

Somehow, I thought he meant that as a compliment. But it rubbed salt into the hole in my soul where 'live and let live' had once flourished when he pointed out that 'real' soldiers honestly liked and respected me. I didn't blubber with worry about him being wrong - I was certain my missions did have a purpose. I just worried about whether I was really making the world a better place.

I certainly felt I was completely unworthy of such camaraderie and faith, so I was engineering my expulsion from Unit L before I put my friends into another desperate life and death struggle. I had pushed all the right buttons and I was getting ready for returning to the comfort of walking to places on my own. I was supremely confident that my odious insult to the sponsors' view of how the world should work was going get me benched.

No. The US and UK decided to accede to my outrageous demands - namely the authority to screen, hire and fire people from Unit L and to be consulted before anyone was added to the Joint (US agencies) International (US/UK/9Clans/Amazon) Khanate Interim Taskforce (JIKIT). I wanted to be the Uber-Tyrant of Unit L, JIKIT's 'action' section. Their counter-offer agreed to all my wishes with only one exception.

I hated the fact that the one exception to my control made so much sense I couldn't get around it. I mean, she wasn't from either of my 'home' states (New Hampshire and Illinois), but she was from my neighborhood...a sitting US Senator from the Great State of Maine. Mutter ... mutter ... mutter. I made sure FP Javiera Costello was still the taskforce's leader, which helped me cope.

Why was Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine, Age 61) in my orbit? Javiera and Katrina thought I needed someone to ride herd on me; someone who I would both respect and not want to sleep with (didn't they realize that married and between 18 and 65 was still in my target zone?). Then there was the fact that she was on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (the real reason she was with the JIKIT) and I was endangering World Peace every time I took a breath.

Normally, Senators don't work with clandestine government taskforces. Normally, five nuclear powers don't have their fingers on the atomic button either. The PRC, the Russian Federation, the Khanate (a lie ~ which the Great Khan let me in on), Pakistan and India now did. Who had invited the subcontinent to the party? I had.

Like every good beef cow, I was walking straight into the hammer-gun, slightly suspicious that something was wrong, but all I could see was the ass-end of the heifer in front of me. A week ago, when I walked into my place, Timothy wrapped me and Odette in one mighty bear hug. As Odette began bringing out all the gifts she'd brought Timothy (with my money) from abroad, he handed me a disposable cell phone.

Note: World Events Stuff ~ aka Why things are happening in Cáel's life

The phone was from Iskender. His boss, Oyuun Tömörbaatar (OT), the former UN ambassador from Kazakhstan and now the informal and unrecognized UN representative and chief diplomat of the Khanate to the same august body, wanted to talk with me ... immediately. OT wasn't being diplomatic at the moment - that would come later.

{Now this is going to get convoluted}

Any inquiries to the Khanate that didn't also include immediate official recognition of the Khanate currently were being steered my (and Hana's) way. For all the behind closed doors crap, he had me ... his loyal butt-monkey mutton-head. I held faint hope that this latest meeting would work out to my benefit. For the meeting, I traveled light - only Naomi (the Amazon) and Chaz (British SRR) watched over me.

Now fathers who know me, hide their daughters. I'd earned my 'scoundrel' reputation. T. Sarangerel, OT's daughter, was in the room when Iskender ushered me in. She gave me an uncertain look, I shrugged and she smiled. It took me 0.03 seconds to figure that out ... OT was scoping me out as a potential son-in-law. I was in Temujin's Inner Circle and a man who he trusted (a rarity). Any union with me would strengthen OT's clan's standing in the new regime.

The genetic footprint Temujin, and his immediate family collectively, had put down in the 13th and 14th centuries CE today was vast. He needed that to make his plans for the internal reorganization of the Khanate work. The old republics would go away, to be replaced by a system akin to the Byzantine 'themes - the re-organization of regions based on the recruitment of the Tumens.

The Khanate was aiming for an 'Autocratic Republic' ~ a term invented in the 19th century. My use of this terminology was based on my gut instinct, Alal's host of memories involving every form of governance, and my experience with human nature. That clued me in to what Temujin was up to - his Greater Plan. He wasn't going to form a false-front government. He was going to retain the decision-making powers and do so openly, thus 'Autocratic'.

He also planned to have a bicameral legislative branch. The Upper House would be based in Tumens and bureaucratic leadership, intellectual standing, religious sects, and tribal entities. This body would be based on merit, not primogeniture. The Lower, main chamber, would be a democratically-elected assembly (aka a democratic republic) that advised him on policy matters, thus 'Republic'.

All the power would remain in the Great Khan's hands and would be exercised by his genetic descendants (which some geneticists estimated as being as high as 25% of the Central Asian population.) Marrying into that extended family would be easy, the 'family' itself would have a vested interesting in supporting a state that benefited them.

Men and women could exercise power in the government through marriage alliances, identical to the manner Hana was working through me. Being surrounded by very populous countries in various states of belligerence, empowering women wouldn't be an issue since every willing mind and pair of hands mattered. Outsiders who shone through could be offered a spouse and brought into the ruling elite since polygamy was permissible.

In the Khanate there would be universal compulsive suffrage (everyone 18+ was legally required to vote) to decide on the representatives in the new legislative body. Everyone was expected to fight, so everyone voted. It would be modeled on the Duma of early 20th century Imperial Russia. Unlike the ill-fated Tsar Nicholas II, Temujin would be much more attentive to the voice of the people - in the Information Age, he had to.

Or so I hoped. I spewed forth my ideas to OT who didn't agree, or disagree with my vision. Perhaps Temujin and I did share a bond that went beyond obligation. OT then pulled a 'Pamela'.

"He told me he knew immediately you were his brother when you and I shared that vision," he commented out of nowhere.

"His words: You (Earth & Sky) are the old. He (meaning me) is the new. He (me again) will show us the way." My, that was nice, obtuse and not at all helpful. What did OT want? My good buddy, the Great Khan, wanted to cash in on Hana's and my sudden popularity. His most pressing need remained 'time'. He needed to have a cease-fire in the wings when his offensive resumed the next day.

The Earth & Sky had moved...well, the Heaven & Earth to get the Tumens and their accompanying national armies up and running after only a two day respite. Thanks to me, Manchuria was a mess. The Russians had carried out my 'Operation: Funhouse' with mixed, mostly positive results.

Dozens of smaller Chinese military police units along the border went ... 'inactive' was the term most often used in the media. They didn't disarm, yet they didn't fight the Russians either. They sat back and let events unfold. The issue wasn't the Chinese's willingness to fight and die for their country. It was the schizophrenic government in Beijing.

The PRC didn't want to wage a war with the Russian Federation at that moment. The Khanate was the priority. There were two fundamentally incompatible courses of action favored for dealing with the Russians:

One large group advocated a passive Option A: let the Russians step in and shield the three remaining provinces making up Manchuria that were still in Chinese possession. Later, China would use military, economic and political means to edge the Russians out, once the Khanate was dealt with.

A sizable faction favored a more aggressive Option B: play a game of chicken with Vladimir Putin. Tell the Bear not to come across the border while threatening him with a bloody and pointless (for him) guerilla war if he did intervene. Events on the ground were not providing a lot of support for that school of thought,

However, this split at the highest levels of leadership left the local and regional commanders to try and muddle through as best they could. To the local commanders defending the Amur River side of the Chinese-Russian border, common sense dictated that they not oppose the Russian crossings - because the Russian 35th Army would kill them.

All their military units had gone west to the Nen River line. With no heavy weapons and little air support, the People's Armed Police (PAP) (paramilitary) and the Public Security Bureau (regular police) units would be wiped out for little gain.

Russia's GRU (Military Intelligence) sweetened the pot by allowing the police units to remain armed and in formation. It could be argued that they weren't even committing treason. At any time, they could throw themselves into the battle, or form the core of a resistance movement. 'Conserving your strength' had been a hallmark of the Communist Chinese struggle against the Imperial Japanese and Nationalists forces from the 1920's until 1945 and it had served them well.

For the party officials, civil authorities and the People's Liberation Army (PLA), Army Air Force (PLAAF), and Army Navy (PLAN) who had gone with Option B, things weren't working out. In the north of Heilongjiang province at Morin Dawa/the Nen River line, the regional commander of the ad hoc forces facing the Khanate decided to duke it out with the Russian 36th Army as well. He was boned from the get-go.

The PLAAF's overall command and control had been badly disrupted in the first few hours of The Unification War and had never fully recovered. Of the 22 air regiments that the PLAAF had started the war with in the Shenyang Military District (NE China), only 5 remained as effective formations flying, on average, a meager 20% of their original complement of advanced Shenyang J-16's, J-11's, Chengdu J-10's and Xian JH-7's aircraft.

Replacing their aircraft losses meant sending up aged Shenyang J-8's (rolled out in 1980) and Nanchang Q-5's (in 1970) to fly and die in droves fighting their technologically superior Khanate foes. To add insult to injury, China's fleet of 97 Su-30MKK/MK2's (built in Russia) had suffered numerous suspicious mechanical and electronic failures, rendering them either flying coffins, or space holders in bomb-proof shelters.

Furthermore, of the forces arrayed in the far north...only two of the five air regiments were responding. Two of the other three had begun displacing south into the Beijing Military District and preparing to defend the capital city. The fifth formation had another problem - North Korea (... more on that later.)

In opposition to those two Chinese air regiments (roughly 60 aircraft of mixed types) stood seven complete and fresh Russian air regiments (over 400 front-line aircraft) and that didn't include the regiment and elements of the Far East Naval Aviation which was ALSO watching North Korea (...again more on that later.) The latter was of small comfort to the forces trying to hold the already compromised Nen River line.

Behind those valiant troops, along the much more defensible Amur River line, the commander of the key city of Heihe sided with the Option A group and let the Russian 35th Army cross the river unopposed. By the time the PLA commanding general of the 'Nen Force' (the 69th Motorized Division and the subordinate 7th Reserve Division) figured that out, he was already in a shooting war with the Russians. So his supply lines weren't in danger, they were lost.

The final indignity took place at Zalantun. The commander of the 3rd Reserve Div. had died during the attempt to recapture Zalantun. His replacement died when his helicopter was shot down as he was coming to assume command. In the absence of these officers, the divisional chief of staff told his men, including two hastily hustled forward mechanized brigades, to put down their arms. That meant 'Nen Force' was completely cut-off and surrounded.

One battalion of the 36th Russian Motorized Brigade (yes, too many 36's running around) disarmed the Chinese troops while the rest, plus the 74th Independent Motorized Brigade raced for the prize, the city of Qiqihar. The last major mechanized formation of the 36th Rus. Army, the 39th MB was following them. However, instead of manning Qiqihar's defenses, the Chinese garrison in that city was waging war on its own populace.

It wasn't only in Qiqihar; chaos reigned throughout Heilongjiang province. The Provincial Head of the Communist Party, Wang Xiankui, supported Option A. The Provincial Governor, Lu Hao, went with Option B. Both figures were rising stars in the PRC. Wang had ordered the still forming Reserve Divisions and the PAP units to disperse, thus avoiding any untimely confrontations with the Russians.

Lu, without consulting Wang, ordered the same forces to launch a violent crackdown on all dissident forces, specifically all racial minorities. (It turned out that Lu was also a member of the Seven Pillars and his witch-hunt was aimed at getting the Earth & Sky organization operating in Heilongjiang).

For the men and women on the other end of those phone conversations, there was no 'right' answer. Lest we forget, their organizations were already degraded by the Anthrax outbreak. Both men were powerful and represented China's future leadership, so if the person in charge at the ground level obeyed the wrong one, they could be assured of being roasted by the other.

Some did try to do both - repress and disband at the same time. That meant that in the process of making mass arrests among an already war-fearful and plague-fearful populace, the law enforcement infrastructure began disintegrating.

The problem with Lu's/7P's plan was that there was no 'revolutionary' organization to round up. That wasn't how the Earth & Sky operated in North-East China. They remained in tiny sabotage and reconnaissance cells. While they were scurrying for cover from the police crackdown, an opportunity presented itself.

The afflicted minorities were getting furious with their treatment. These minorities saw themselves as loyal Chinese, yet they were being dragged out into the streets, put in detentions centers and (in a few cases) summarily executed. Being less than 10% of the overall population, resistance had never crossed their minds. It seemed all that those defenseless people could do was pray for Russian intervention forces to arrive.

Within that mix of fear, betrayal and rage, the E&S discovered a way to start the dominos falling. The small, well-armed and well-trained E&S cells began ambushing police detachments. Weapons from those dead men and women were turned over to the pissed off locals before the cell went off to stalk the next police unit.

Wash, rinse and repeat. It became a perverse and bloody case of wish fulfillment. Lu and the 7P's had been looking for an insurrection and they started one. Even though a miniscule portion of the population was involved, from the outside looking in, it reinforced the Putin Public Affairs initiative that portrayed Putin (and his army) as coming in to restore order to a collapsing civil system ... which he was helping disrupt.

From Moscow, the PRC's indecisiveness looked like Manna from Heaven. For the massive numbers of Russian soldiers riding through the Manchurian countryside, it felt like they were rolling into Arkham Asylum. Unlike the NATO countries' professional armies, Russia remained a largely conscript force whose normal term of service was only one year. These unseasoned troops could never tell if the local military, military police and police would attack until they rolled up on the Chinese units.

At the start of that Day One of Operation: Funhouse, the Russian ROE (Rules of Engagement) was 'Ask and Verify'. It was tactically advantageous for the belligerent Chinese forces to lie about their intentions, then begin shooting at the Russians when they got close enough to hurt them. By Day Two, the standard front-line Russian soldier had adjusted that ROE to 'if they look at us wrong, light their asses up'. By Day Three, the officers had stopped trying to enforce Moscow's ROE orders.

That was fine for the combat and rear echelon support troops because both the Chinese and Russian governments had another series of problems and they all centered around Pyongyang and Kim Jong-un's declaration that North Korea would intervene as well...without letting anyone know who he was 'intervening' against. To keep everyone guessing, the North Korean' People's Army was massing on all three borders - facing off with the PRC, Russia and South Korea. To prove his diplomatic intentions, Kim pledged to only mobilize half of his reserves...merely 4,250,000 extra men and women to go with his 950,000 strong standing army.

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