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Forum Resident
Original Poster
#1 Old 22nd Jul 2010 at 8:20 AM
Default Where Have All the Flowers Gone? (A "War: What is It Good For" Challenge Story)
Note: This story is the beginning of my trying the "War: What is it Good For?" challenge. ". While the intro is fairly normal, later entries might be more understandable if you've given the rules of this challenge a once-over.

The name's Marc. Marc Armand. I'm a cop.

Yeah, I know. People don't like cops. Maybe you don't like cops. But here I am, all the same. My dad was a professor of sorts, a real gentle guy. He always talked about how people...ought to work together, to help each other out. Because of him, I wanted to do my part. I wanted to help out -- so I became a cop.

I wanted to make sure people didn't speed through folks' neighborhoods -- wanted to be there when someone's house was robbed to make sure the thief was caught. I've got a fairly simple vision of an ideal world, and I try to play my part in it.

Things worked out that way at first. My wife Juliette and I met as security guards at a local hospital. We spent a lot of long hours together, helping patients in the emergency room and keeping disruptions to a minimum. My application to join the police academy was accepted first: by the time she was accepted, we were married and expecting our first child.

I liked being a cop, patrolling the neighborhood. It made me feel as though I was doing my part, like I wanted. I didn't have a lot of friends on the force -- hardly any, actually.

After being promoted to the state police force, I nearly lost my job after expressing some unfavorable political opinions.

Life in the Dominion isn't bad. Our history's bloody -- the entire continent was seized through war -- but it's arguably been for the best. Through monarchies, religious dictatorships, and a republic, the Dominion has steadily grown in might and in the esteem of its citizens. We enjoy lives of ease and far more rights than those who live across the seas. Still, people don't like you making a fuss, and the Ansar Order is perfectly willing to...eliminate people who insist on doing so.

As much as I like being a cop, and a dad to our baby Jeanne, my life's about to change. At six o'clock tonight, earlier, I received a phone call from the constable-in-chief. The Dominion is at war.

For the past three years, the mighty empire of Sumeria has been expanding. A generation ago it and another power, Carthage, destroyed the Byzantine Republic: now, Sumeria intends to expand into Persia.

Our leaders are not willing to allow another power to be defeated. After ensuring Carthaginian support, the Congress of Communes launched an expeditionary force in secret.

They landed in Carthage today, and will soon march into the interior to fight Sumeria. The government's aim, it says, is to distract the Sumerians to the point that they cannot continue with their offensive into Persia.

This, then, is a world war, for all the great powers of the globe are united. The Dominion, with Carthage at her side, will force the Sumerians to withdrawn from the conquered territories. For this, I am proud. I believe in my local commune -- but I believe in the Dominion, too.

It is well that I do, for the Congress has issued orders to every commune to induct their best young men into the Guard. We are mobilizing for war, and I have been called to leave the constabulary and join the services.

I do not know what waits me, but I anticipate it eagerly.

You may be wondering: what's up with those pictures from another game in there? Aren't the Carthaginians, Persians, Sumerians, and Byzantines people from the history books?

In thinking on how I might tell the story of my trying this challenge, I realized I needed an idea of who the powers were, and why the war is going to last so long. I tried making up random governments/kingdoms, and I thought about setting it in history. Then I realized: in a game I play, Civilization III, I sometimes engage massive wars of the sort portrayed in this challenge. In fact, a recent game drew my nation into a centuries-long war that would be perfect for this.

The known world, with leading powers indicated. The "remnants" were kingdoms long ago absorbed by the Arab Dominion, which is now just the Dominion to indicate that everyone is fairly happy living together. Marc Armand, for instance, was born in a small neighborhood of Lyons.

Lyons was "freed from feudalism" in the middle ages, along with most of France and Russia.

As I play through the challenge, I will use a screen capture from the game from time to time to give a "bigger" picture. Matching the pace of the challenge and the pace of my Civ3 game should be fun.
Forum Resident
Original Poster
#2 Old 24th Jul 2010 at 3:51 AM
I remember two things vividly from ten years ago: our oldest daughter Jeanne's one-year birthday, and Marc shipping out. We of the Dominion had become a people at war, taking on the world's greatest power to prevent its conquest of its neighbors.

Marc wanted to go. He supported the cause. Our kingdom is an ancient and marvelous, its history a story of ever-striding progress. No other nation on Earth compares to the Dominion's majesty, to the prosperity and freedom of our people. Of course we were right to send troops into the lands of the Tigris and Euphrates, to prevent their conquest of the Persians. The Sumerians had to be stopped.

That was ten years ago, and we are still at war. My Jeanne is now eleven, and she has known nothing but war her whole life. Her father is a passing stranger who only sees her and her two sisters when he is granted leave.

I've largely raised the girls alone, although Marc risks dishonorable discharge or prison to sneak away when he can.

We are now five: Alexandrie followed Jeanne very quickly -- too quickly -- and little Marie ensured our cribs stayed full. Alexandrie and Jeanne are now in school, relieving some of the parenting burden, but I fear for the future.

The first two years of the war were the worst. Our troops took a town on the Carthaginian-Sumerian border known as Caesarea -- originally Byzantinian, before that illustrious kingdom was devoured by her neighbors. We thought the occupation of one of their border towns would end the Sumerian aggression, especially given that the entire continent was at war with her.

Instead, the Persians ceded the territory stolen from them by the Sumerians, and our Carthaginian allies have proven less than competent. The Sumerians focused the weight of their army on our marginal expeditionary force. We abandoned Caesarea, leaving it a free city-state, and moved toward the coast.

Marc knows much about the progress of the war, having worked in the logistics office in Port Baghdad for most of the past decade. Were I to rely on newspapers, I would know next to nothing about the fate of Caesarea. Few people realize we left in retreat: the king declared that we had set the Caesarians free. The fate of Sabratha...

I remember, three years ago, when a soldier came to the door. He informed me that the entire garrison of Sabratha had been wiped out. The Sumerian army, having beaten the Persians and secured a large part of the Dariusan Peninsula, surrounded our retreating troops and destroyed them, wholly. The Carthaginians were supposed to send ships to evacuate our men from the town, but they didn't show. Marc was among the missing, and presumed dead.

I thank the fates that Marc was not among their number. He missed his boat in Port Baghdad, deliberately -- although his official story included an imagined stay in Baghdad's central hospital. The army didn't believe him and suspended him from duty temporarily -- not that he minded.

Ever since the loss of Sabratha and our troops there, the war has largely receded in the minds of the people. We are still at war, as are the Carthaginians and Persians. Marc tells me that the Dominion bribed the Persians to return to war with Sumeria, and the people of the Darisuian Peninsula have paid dearly for the ongoing war there.

While the past five years have seen no military activity on the part of our forces, Marc tells me there are ships being constructed in every port town. More young men from each city in the land are drafted into the army to serve against Sumeria. The numbers of men in uniform are mounting, as is the cost of war.

Marc, though initially enthusiastic about the great crusade, has become downright sullen about the scale of the affair. He bitterly contends that the military is deceiving us: if our goal was to stop the conquest of Persia, the armistice would have been a victory. Instead we golled Persia into war once more, and we are preparing an invasion army big enough to conquer the whole of Sumeria. At the same time, the military is increasing its control over the cities: formerly autonomous communes have been turned into mere auxiliaries of the royal government.

We are starting down dangerous paths, and I fear for my family and the Dominion's future.
Forum Resident
Original Poster
#3 Old 29th Jul 2010 at 8:39 PM

Happy birthday to me, Jeanne.

Happy birthday to the war, too. Mom and Dad say it's been raging since I was a baby, but that's hard to believe. I remember the "million-man march" into Sumeria the summer before I started high school. I thought that was when the war started.

Mom and Dad are always talking about how different life is now the war is really underway. They grew up in a different world from me, I guess. Like they say when they were young, girls and guys went to school together -- these days, high schools are half-empty. All the guys are away at military school. Dad also talks a lot about the growing power of the government over the communes: he says the war.

He talks about politics a lot, and not just in private. He'll give public speeches, too.Sometimes people in school attack me for the stuff he says to reporters. Dad says it's cost him: the military won't release him from service even though he's been in it over twenty years. On my thirteenth birthday, they sent him to the front as part of the logistics office.

That meant I had to step up and help Mom with Alexandrie and Maria. Although our growing up meant mom could finally attend the police academy, she told me even on the day they certified her as an officer of the constabulary that she no longer wanted to wear a badge and gun: she wanted to go to law school. She wanted to start curbing the goverment's abuses, she said.

I guess I'm from a dangerous family. Dad's job in logistics set him even more against the war. At home we were told that the Sumerians destroyed Fez rather than surrender it to our army, but Dad....Dad says we destroyed the city -- on purpose. There are also hints of the army forcing Sumerian survivors into labor teams -- rumors which my dad fears.

Throughout high school, militarization intensified. Mom finished law school and began her own practice. Dad was finally able to move back to the home continent, where he began lobbying for the communes' rights to be restored. As his eldest daughter, I was entitled to attend university -- which I did.

Marie's best friend Ginger Newson and I found a house together. During the first semester, we lived in a little shack, but our academic performance allowed us to rent a larger home. Dad's status as a long-serving military officer helped, of course.

At college, I realized my parents weren't alone in protesting the steady curbing of our rights.

Although I had no idea what I wanted to do for a living, I enjoyed painting to the point that I decided to major in art. While I worked, I dated. Trevor Newson is a member of the commune's Arts and Crafts hobby association, and I met him in the course of buying supplies.

He and I were together for most of my final three years at the university, and we may -- just may -- start a family together. I'm not sure. He's so uncofused, not knowing what he wants out of life. He isn't happy about having to join the army, either: he'd hoped his "community service" would exempt him.

The broadening of the war isn't exactly encouraging.

Still, for all of our mutual uncertainty, I'm looking forward to the future. I want to join Mom and Dad in their struggle to restore our rights, hopefully doing something with my artistic talents along the way.
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