This was the outline I had for the big, apocalyptic event that would rejigger and reshape Proper: a Grand Army Civil War. As, after all,
Outline for White Cell
Incomplete and not well-thought out in every area. That’s why it’s an outline. What Praxer and the Celpo are doing all this time is probably the biggest loophole, at least re: my stuff. I was planning on having at least some Celpo agents support White Cell, if only to facilitate Torstensson’s return
There were a few big items I wanted to wrap up before launching White Cell. The first was the sadly-still-half-finished Scandian mega. I probably would’ve felt compelled to finish up the whole Organization of Winter arc afterwards, as it features quite prominently in the Scandian mega. (It basically reintroduces it; I can do without, I suppose, but I still remember firing up my old BoF ROM and seeing “Six Goddess Keys” and thinking that this was a plot I could do.)
That would lead into a “Mountbatten’s Secret War” arc, where Mountbatten takes a slush fund and runs his own private covert operations campaign against the Communist Protectorate. He was going to hire Osprey. And I was finally going to out him as gay, which I’ve been planning on doing since like sophomore year of undergrad. It was going to be really obvious in the never-written Web aerospace expo when his drunken ex-wife tries to kiss him, and he says something like, “I loved you, you know, like a sister” and she says, "…that’s never what I wanted."
Anyway, Mountbatten’s Secret War culminates in a plan to get manufacture a major incident between the Scandian League and Tasnica, in order to get the two of them to go to war (or at least spoil detente.) I hadn’t worked out exactly what this would be yet. Anyway, it goes horribly wrong, its revealed that Mountbatten was doing all kinds of secret nonsense, and he gets fired. (He almost certainly is going to be tried, too, though the trial might take long enough for other events to overtake it.)
Probably the Tasnicans feel guilty enough about the whole affair that when the Scandians demand certain concessions, they feel compelled to give in. (Whatever the Scandians demand isn’t important, the whole point of doing it from Travin’s perspective is to convince the Guardians that the Tasnicans have all become a bunch of commie-lovers.)
Also, I was thinking of having the Conservatives win an extremely narrow majority in the Senate, or at the very least, winning enough to have the Populists have a very narrow majority. The point being that the two major parties were of about equal power. (Since Kenny would still be PM, I feel like I have to give the Conservatives the Senate for this effect.)
I also sorta-wanted to do an incident where the Guardian blockade of Merge accidentally shoots down a Tasnican passenger ship. (Similar to when the US Navy shot down an Iran Air flight or when the USSR shot down a Korean air flight.) But the most important thing was that relations between the Great Powers sink to their lowest point since the Leviathan War.
Torsetensson was going to die, too. He’s pretty old and has a terminal illness, it’s amazing he’s lasted as long as he has.
Optional: A plotline with a battlesuit-wearing bounty hunter. Because I like Metroid. And her name would be Moneta Eul. Last name pronounced “oil”. And as someone clever like Praxer will point out, ‘oil’ is formed under very similar conditions to ‘coal’. (The whole name-trick might go under ‘ideas i thought were neat but now i think are dumb’.) Although my plans to give Leisha a battlesuit may make change her shtick, I suppose one can never have too many chicks in battlesuits running around.
In my wildest dreams, I wanted to do the “Year One” mega dealing with the first year of GACA, as the Celiose/Burzmale scenes would set up everything else nicely.
Eblan Lights the Match
Either the elder Kurita dies, or Edge Eblana V dies. I like Edge, but his is the bigger death more likely to actually cause Awful Stuff to happen.
Said Awful Stuff involves the more racist/fascist elements of Eblan gaining political ascendance (led by the younger Kurita, flush with tales of heroism from Merge.) They pass all kinds of laws that do terrible stuff and have ominous names (“The Law to Protect the Purity of the Nation”.) The New Horizon party, the main political party representing Eblan’s non-ethnic Eblanese Provisional community, literally walks out of the Diet; the democratic institutions of the country effectively collapse.
Scande engineers the escape of communist leader Ichiro Mitsuhama who shows up in the western part of the island which is populated with Provisionals. He declares an independent state (something like “Eblanese Socialist Republic”) and asks the Scandians and the Communist Protectorate for protection.
The Kingdom of Eblan views this as a rebellion and asks the Guardians and Tasnicans for help. Guardia jumps on board for some good-old commie stomping, but Tasnica dissembles.
Tasnica decides that the web must be spared another Leviathan War, and try to use the Alliance Congress to open negotiations with Scande, Guardia, and both Eblanese groups to try to resolve the issue. They’re doomed to fail; both sides are just using them to stall for time. The Guardians regard Tasnica as too favorable to the Scandians; the Scandians regard them as too favorable to the Guardians. The Scandians also view these attempts as evidence Tasnica won’t fight for Eblan, and that this is their best chance to fight a war with Guardia without any other great power getting involved.
Negotiations break down, and the war starts. The first part of the war goes pretty much as expected, as the Scandians achieve initial victories on the ground and the Guardian Space Force cleans the Scandians out of Crystal.
Meanwhile, in White Cell’s Secret Base
(I’m gonna go ahead and spoil one big thing right here: White Cell’s secret base is Foo. I’m totally serious.)
So Torstensson Lenart wakes up resurrected. And he’s a cyborg. (Mike had a whole arc where he established the Celpo can do this sort of thing.) Probably recurring Minder Alfred Chekhov shows up to explain the Celpo connection. Torstensson’s chronic pain is apparently gone; he can now walk under his power for the first time in years.
Bounty-hunter lady shows up and reveals she’s Erdeny Cole. She and Torstensson have a long talk about the Grand Army, and what’s it any good for. The GA is created to protect the Web. Since the Hivan War, it has essentially failed spectacularly in doing so. The Omnisent Conflict happened BECAUSE of the Grand Army. Since then, they haven’t stopped the Imperialist War, the Leviathan War, or dozens of other conflicts. The GA’s tremendous power exists only for the apparently increasingly unlikely prospect of interdimensional invasion.
Inevitably they begin to talk about Celiose, and here’s where I want to hit on one of the plot’s key themes: Celiose can be a very nasty guy when he wants to win a war. I fear he’s become too de-fanged of late. Although I would expect the residents of the Web to gloss over some of his ends-justify-the-means attitude in its hagiography of the war, the writers should know a little bit better. (I regret not communicating very well with Dustin during the Omnisent conflict, as I feel I should’ve conveyed that killing a bunch of innocent Tanes was basically not a problem for Celiose if it meant winning the war.)
Torstensson recoils, as this is essentially the path of Burzmale. Burzmale, he says, left to serve the Dark Gods because he felt that a world ruled by the Dark Gods was better than Celiose’s world of NO gods. (This section might need to be expanded since I’m probably not going to get Year One done.) But Erdeny points out that this world has created things that are like gods, but fail to provide any stability or peace. GACA, the GA, the Celpo–all have tremendous power, but don’t do anything to solve any of the Web’s problems.
Wouldn’t it be better if the GA used all of this vast power to get the Web to stop destroying itself?
Celiose pulled the trigger on the Leviathan War after he had ‘found himself’ in Aryth, but if he were there when the war broke out, would he have done the same? In the LW Scande and Esper were both virtually out of resources, would the same thing work if he were facing countries spoiling for a fight?
The only real solution is for the GA to compel complete the nations of the Web to disarm. Torstensson demurs that this is just “peace at gunpoint”, but Erdeny claims, first, that this is better than no peace at all, and second, it’s not so very different from the state that exists within most of the (stable) countries of the Web. Most importantly, the GA would still be ultimately accountable to the political leadership of the Web through the Alliance Congress, who would still choose the Generalissimo.
Torstensson is beginning to come around to this way of thinking, but he still thinks beating Celiose is essentially impossible. Erdeny claims that he is probably the only person who can do it. “Yes, and I know better than to try,” grumbles Torstensson. He’s probably on the above crisis in Eblan makes another Great Power war imminent, convincing him that stopping the war at gunpoint isn’t such a bad idea after all.
They’ll be some throwaway lines in here about building the conspiracy. I would like to do a few posts to establish it as a subject of concern in the GA. Erdeny reveals a few big GA players on her side, like Victor Velasco of SAGA and the leaders of the ex-GA mercenary unit, the Moonslayers. There’s a scene where Torstensson goes and talks to Model to get him to come in (and he brings the Sixth Army.)
White Cell Strikes
Emerging seemingly from nowhere (Foo!), the White Cell forces engage the Scandians on the ground and the Guardians in space. They catch the Great Powers off-guard and are able to pull off some stunning victories. A mix of tanks and infantry cripple the SLCM’s Dracoforms, and the Executor proves every bit as formidable as advertised in action against the GSF Crystal Fleet. (I was going to ram a Tyrano into it and do hardly any damage, because someone would think of doing this desperate counter at some point anyway, and I wanted to get it out of the way and prove it wouldn’t work. A Blackbird is probably more reasonable, though. Building the Executor up makes Thames’ later triumph over it that much more bad-ass, on the other other hand.) In a matter of weeks, White Cell demonstrates its power by achieving a victory over the Web’s best land army and its best space force.
White Cell sends the Alliance Congress a list of demands, which amounts to: stop all your wars, give up all your weapons. The AC and the House of Lords meet to discuss the situation.
The GA Divided
White Cell-Most of SAGA, Second Army, Sixth Army, Moonslayers (and a few other odds and ends)
Grand Army-(maybe they need a nifty faction name for this, too?)-First Army, Seventh Army, most of the Luftwaffe, most of the Kriegsnavee. I’m hoping to have sea power and traditional air power play a big role at some point.
It’s important to note that White Cell regards itself as part of the Grand Army–in fact, the whole point of the war as for the Alliance Congress and House of Lords to acknowledge White Cell as THE Grand Army. (Which is why they never directly attack the AC/House, and have a big argument over whether attacking the capital of a Great Power is a good idea.) White Cell uses its GA ranks and conducts itself with GA procedures. They even follow the Hosluftgrad Conventions with regard to treatment of prisoners, even though the GA is not a signing party.
In the center of the huge meeting hall are plaques for two people. “C. Cole, Generalissimo” and “P. Riose, Director of Celpo”. Praxer’s not there. This is bad, because this is exactly the sort of thing he should be concerned with. Nonetheless, the presence of Celiose inspires some confidence. Even though some delegates will no doubt point out that Torstensson is not the first high-ranking lieutenant to betray him, deep down they all know that the Generalissimo is their ace in the hole who can deliver victory in almost any situation.
Probably a few countries think White Cell’s proposal is a good idea. Probably the Scandians and Guardians, who just had a bunch of their soldiers killed by White Cell, are in no mood to agree. I personally like the idea of the smaller and disenfranchised powers being amenable to White Cell’s proposal, while the Great Powers refuse to give up their sovereignty.
Celiose is asked about Ultima weapons. Celiose reveals that though White Cell has significant Ultima weapons in its space fleet, however the GA still retains the entire sea and air based arsenal as well as the key land-based installations of Kefka’s Domain and Death Mountain. Celiose points out that Torstensson, like all GA soldiers, would prefer to capture an objective (in this case, the Web) intact rather than raze it to the ground. The leaders of the Web are a little less then reassured that the professional restraint of Celiose and Torstensson are all that stand between them and fiery Ultima death.
Celiose then presents his plan to win the war. (Someone points out that doing this to such a large audience isn’t wise, but Celiose points out that he and Torstensson know each other so well they both know exactly how this will play out.) The simple fact is that White Cell needs to win big victories, fast, because they have no way of replacing their losses. They have no population or industrial base to draw on; they have no source of replacement parts, new recruits, or ammunition. Torstensson’s first move, if his initial 'shock and ‘awe’ demonstrative victory fails, will be to secure a built-up industrial area. Probably in space, given his huge superiority in that area.
“So space will need to be defended.”
“No, that is impossible,” says Celiose (managing to piss off the Tasnican and Guardian delegates), "the space colonies will need to be destroyed, to deny White Cell the industry and resources.
None of the spacefaring powers like this idea. The Fringe countries also hate it, because they’re effectively written off as well; "Should we in the Fringe also destroy all our industry and technology?"
Celiose, with characteristic bluntness and political deafness, says, “Yes.”
(Note: Might be a good time to adopt less derogatory term for “the Fringe”, like maybe “the Extensions” or whatever, “Core” is still fine probably).
The political leadership of the Web fundamentally rejects Celiose’s “Scorched Space” policy. However, they know that they need to retain him at Generalissimo to win the war. The Alliance Congress rejects the White Cell ultimatum and tells Celiose to prepare for war.
So here’s a part of the story that’s a little open-ended; I just had a few vignettes to set the stage for the showdown in Albrook. Mostly its White Cell beating up people, though where there is Celiose, there is victory. Many White Cell units, once confronted with the Generalissimo decide to surrender rather then fight him (part shame of facing him, part his reputation for invincibility on the battlefield.) There’s even a neat trick where Celiose shows himself to an enemy prisoner and then allows the prisoner to escape, so that the White Cell commander KNOWS he’s there in person for sure.
At some point someone (probably some non-Halder Skalice Scandian commander) will decide that the White Cell forces cannot be out-muscled, but they can certainly use superior speed to outmaneuver it. This goes very badly, because the GA invented modern mobile warfare and Torstensson was one of its finest practitioners.
I was also SORTA hopeful that one or two countries might throw in with White Cell out of overall sympathy to their goals.
White Cell is really in a strategic bind, here, even though it wins everywhere it fights, it’s unclear where it should be fighting. Attacking the nations of the Web directly just pisses them off, and is counterproductive to WC’s long-term goal of being recognized as “the legitimate” Grand Army by the Alliance Congress. However, without any resources or factories, they have no way to replace their losses.
Crisis in Tasnica
The Tasnica Republic becomes a giant cluster-fuck.
It takes a little time, though. At first the RAF (not led by Mountbatten, but the inferior Helmut Nicias) is pretty sure it can beat WC’s space forces. When White Cell beat the GSF, it had the element of surprise, and as true Tasnican patriots, they all believe deep down that the RAF is better than the GSF anyway. At first, everyone in the war cabinet is freaking out, as this represents a problem well beyond the existing military capabilities of the Republic (who only planned on fighting another Great Power or so). Nicias is the voice of calm.
And then Admiral Nicias gets his ass kicked in a big space battle that wipes out most of the RAF’s capital ships. White Cell commits heavily to Manaspace because of the large space-based manufacturing infrastructure available there. (In other words, what Celiose predicted would happen, happens.) Velasco’s White Cell forces seize all of the Tasnican space colonies. (And, presumably, Heinlein/Sanctuary.)
And then it all goes to hell in a handbasket politically in Tasnica.
It’s clear to Kenny and his war cabinet that it’s time to do something really, really drastic. In fact, a couple of things that are really, really drastic. Despite the loss of all its space colonies, Tasnica still has a large economy and lots of military potential; unfortunately, it is ONLY potential. What they need more than anything is someone who can turn money into guns.
And that’s how Kenny Brackhaven ends up appointing Damien Gavalian Defense Minister.
Kenny’s well aware that any drastic measures will need the approval of the (Conservative) Senate, so he plans to present all of his proposals to the Senate at once as the “Extraordinary Emergency.” Highlights:
If you have a bunch of raw materials, money, and STUFF, and you need killing machines quickly, there’s an easy answer: ROBOTS! Breaks the treaty with the Guardians, probably pisses off all the robotic voters in Tasnica, requires suspending decades-long interpretation of the Code of Belgememnon, and as everyone knows this can easily go horribly wrong. (Trying to remember if Rajaat’s status as a former robot is common knowledge.) But when you think the country’s not going to make it through the next couple months, you start to contemplate some Seriously Fucked Up Shit.
The Tasnicans also discuss Project Breakout. Breakout was a pre-war study on how fast Tasnica could rapidly produce Ultima weapons should another Great Power break the Hostluftgrad Conventions. (I think I’ll stick them about a year away from an actual weapon. This is largely to establish that making Ultima weapons is Hard; I don’t think I’ll have the Tasnicans go through with it, because part of my desired post bellum is to have fewer Ultima weapons.)
Bundle in a few more (assuredly temporary!) restrictions on individual liberties, and the requirement that the Senate is essentially suspended for the duration of the Extraordinary Emergency (meeting only once a month for a “Yes or No” vote to continue the Emergency). And yes, everyone in the room has Rhodes Palmerston’s Great War leadership in the back of their heads, and knowing that they made it through the Great War without doing anything like this.
Kenny meets with the Senate’s Conservative leadership to discuss the package. Although the Proconsul, Maxwell Nordsten, substantively agrees with the package as a dire necessity, Aggronor Stonebreaker, of the party’s more libertarian wing, goes ballistic. The Extraordinary Emergency would destroy everything about Tasnica worth saving. Kenny worries that Aggronor might lead a walk-out of the Conservatives, which could destabilize Tasnica as it had destabilized Eblan.
The next day the Senate votes on the package. Many Senators make it clear they are Not At All Happy with the state of affairs, as they feel they’ve been bypassed by a backroom deal and been forced to a vote without proper debate through scaremongering. The Extraordinary Emergency narrowly passes, though many Senators who vote for it make it clear they’re doing so grudgingly. Kenny finds Aggronor in a last-ditch attempt to keep him from “doing something crazy, like staging a walkout.” When he finds the dwarf, the Senator brandishes a needle-gun and shoots the Prime Minister. (“So always with tyrants!”) Kenny’s carted off in critical condition. (I can’t bring myself to kill him, though, so I think he’ll just be in a coma.)
So rather than actually wage war, Tasnica starts to argue with itself. With the PM unconscious, Proconsul Nordsten becomes Prime Minister. Under other circumstances, he would’ve sought this position, but the situation is clearly over his head from day one. The Populists aren’t happy because a Conservative just shot the founder of Populism, which resulted in ANOTHER Conservative taking power; the Conservatives are divided over the Extraordinary Emergency. I see Nordsten’s previous political career as behind-the-scenes, backroom operator, so he can’t draw on a huge well of popular support, either.
White Cell totally exploits the situation by fanning flames of dissent in Tasnica’s various extradimensional possessions. White Cell begins supporting independence movements in Carrion, the Moogle States, the Tasnican-Ticonderan Territories, and elsewhere.
At some point (probably AFTER Battle of Albrook, haven’t decided yet) White Cell starts an invasion of the Quad, to secure the valuable industrial areas there. They start with Egmont; Damien Gavalian, unwilling to let his recently rebuilt city get trashed again, buys them off with himself. This leads to the whole Leisha-builds-a-battlesuit-to-go-rescue-him arc I mentioned earlier.
Battle of Albrook
Inevitably, it will come down to a showdown between Celiose and Torstensson. And, of course, the place for that showdown will be Albrook. Torstensson has his best forces at his disposal (Second Army, plus Model’s Sixth) and Celiose has the best ‘loyal’ GA forces defending it (First Army, Rimmel’s Seventh).
Celiose orders an evacuation of the city, which leads some to believe that he’s preparing for an intense urban struggle. Torstensson thinks it’s a bluff, though, and he’s proven right when Celiose choices to engage in a large-scale, mobile, field battle on Albrooker Plain. (The Torstensson v. Celiose matchup has a curious “I had guessed that he had guessed my guess” quality to it. Many of the higher-ups believe Torstensson can actually win, but both Celiose and Torstensson KNOW with absolute certainty that, one way or another, Celiose will always wins.)
Celiose begins the battle by launching Rimmel Coward and his Seventh Army (an “Unstoppable Force”) at Torstensson’s left flank, covered by Model’s Sixth Army (an “Immovable Object”.) Rimmel hates this idea. He’s sorta regretting coming out of retirement to do this, and wishes he was back home with his wife. Rimmel thinks his attack is pointless; Model’s army are well dug-in. Rimmel also feels that his men haven’t had enough time to train with the new Leo mk IV and V tanks. (It’s about time we have them, I’m thinking they’ll be gravtanks, but I’m not sure I’m ready to give up on crushing treads just yet…) Celiose is dismissive of his objections, saying basically, “You need to trust me, because I’m Celiose.” It’s easy to accuse Celiose of arrogance or overconfidence, here, but I can’t imagine anyone familiar with Kupopolis who is reading this would for a minute believe Celiose is going to lose.
Rimmel’s attack is a mess for both sides; the two armies wipe each other out, and Rimmel and Model kill each other. Torstensson is now in a quandary; his main remaining force is Second Army, a tank-heavy force ill-suited to the urban fighting in Albrook that now confronts him. His instinct is to call off the attack, but instead he decides to pour more of his precious front-line infantry into the city. (Important strategic point: White Cell has plenty of technological toys, but with no manpower pool of its own, its always short on poor, bloody, infantryman.)
Tex, way-back-when, suggested that the Hannibal would side with White Cell, and bring the Esperians along with them. I’m thinking that this would be a good time to do it (for Torstensson to suddenly get all the troops he needs), but I’m also wondering if this battle should remain a GA ‘intramural’ contest. But Torstensson takes the city, though he takes heavy losses and ends up trashing all of the city’s fortifications in the process.
As things start to look bad, several of Celiose’s closest advisors (including Shana) urge him to flee. He refuses. “Captains and majors can retreat,” he says, “but Celiose Cole?” He scoffs at the possibility that the White Cell forces will kill him if he is captured. “Torstensson will know better than to even try,” he says.
Celiose does, however, arrange for his family to leave the city, including his mother, who is in critical condition. (He argues with the doctor of whether or not she should be moved.)
When Torstensson eventually storms the GAHQ operations room, he finds Celiose there, in his full dress uniform and Illumina at his side in his scabbard. Torstensson and the soldiers iwth him don’t know what to do at first. Celiose stands up from his chair, and the White Cell men in the room twitch and start, as though Celiose would draw the sword and singlehandedly cut down their whole army right there.
“You have to shoot,” insists Celiose. “That’s the conclusion of all this, isn’t it? You have to shoot.”
“The legend of Celiose Cole needs to die,” says Torstensson. But still he hesitates.
“Why do you hesitate?” demands Celiose. “Is it my weapon you fear?” And he draws out Illumina, and puts it on his desk. "Go on, then."
Eventually one of Torstensson’s soldiers freaks out and pulls the trigger, and Torstensson knocks the man’s arms aside to keep him from firing again. Blood starts to stain Celiose’s uniform; but it was just a glancing hit, and the Generalissimo is still standing.
“You see?” taunts Celiose. "I’m just a man."
After another moment’s hesitation, Torstensson informs Celiose he has been taken prisoner in accordance with the Hosluftgrad Conventions, and has his solders escort him to the ‘General’s Wing’ of GAHQ.
After the battle, Torstensson is talking with Erdeny. She asks why he didn’t have Celiose killed. (Erdeny has a lot of daddy issues, it seems.) Torstensson insists he was right. “Generalissimo Celiose Cole was not born to be gunned down like some dog.” Reflecting on the battle, Torstensson says, "It should not have been so easy."
Erdeny is shocked. "Easy? We’ve lost all of Sixth Army, Second Army took heavy losses…this wasn’t easy at all."
Torstensson says, “Defeating Celiose Cole, at Albrook, with his best troops available–that’s something that should have been impossible.” He reflects on the losses and what they mean for White Cell’s strategic position. Albrook’s fortifications are all destroyed, and White Cell’s position is now exposed and vulnerable. The supply depots of Albrook are not nearly as large as hoped, and the city has little in the way of industry. White Cell’s inferior navy means that Albrook’s position near the sea-based Albrook Portal Set is worthless. Rather than a commanding fortress dominating the Core, Albrook is now open to attack from the entire Core. And White Cell has lost huge numbers of its best troops, and one of its best commanders (Model), which it has no way of replacing.
Erdeny is dismissive. “You need to sacrifice your pawns to win the game.”
“You sacrifice your queen to win the game, if that’s what it takes,” says Torstensson. "And that’s what Celiose has done. Your father is a great tactician, but an even better strategist. A tactician wins battles; a strategist uses battles to win wars. Celiose has lost the battle to win the war."
Erdeny points out that Celiose that if this was Celiose’s strategy, he’s in no position to run the next part of it. The GA’s ground forces are all in terrible shape, too, and there’s no Celiose-like figure who can coordinate the Great Powers.
After Albrook, White Cell suspends operations temporarily. They reissue their demands to the Alliance Congress, with one modification: that they name a new Generalissimo.