• The site has now migrated to Xenforo 2. If you see any issues with the forum operation, please post them in the feedback thread.
  • Due to issues with external spam filters, QQ is currently unable to send any mail to Microsoft E-mail addresses. This includes any account at live.com, hotmail.com or msn.com. Signing up to the forum with one of these addresses will result in your verification E-mail never arriving. For best results, please use a different E-mail provider for your QQ address.
  • For prospective new members, a word of warning: don't use common names like Dennis, Simon, or Kenny if you decide to create an account. Spammers have used them all before you and gotten those names flagged in the anti-spam databases. Your account registration will be rejected because of it.
  • Since it has happened MULTIPLE times now, I want to be very clear about this. You do not get to abandon an account and create a new one. You do not get to pass an account to someone else and create a new one. If you do so anyway, you will be banned for creating sockpuppets.
  • Due to the actions of particularly persistent spammers and trolls, we will be banning disposable email addresses from today onward.
  • The rules regarding NSFW links have been updated. See here for details.

Pax's Alternate History Snippet repository.

Created at
Index progress
Incomplete
Watchers
66
Recent readers
24

Pax's Library for Alternate History Snippets

So on the suggestion that these would probably be...

Imperator Pax

Talon Master
Joined
Sep 11, 2019
Messages
5,624
Likes received
71,381
Pax's Library for Alternate History Snippets

So on the suggestion that these would probably be better off in their own thread, this is going to be largely SFW stuff. To that end violence will be kept within PG 13 stuff, and no overly explicit shit.

So this will contain AoE, which is derived from the Chinese Warlord CYOA, a link will be posted. What will probably happen is I will divide it up, and potentially even start a light reboot, or revamp of the series in this new thread. I will be doing the same for both of the Shards stories. The Island in the Sea of Time fic is partially incorporating the Highlander's Traveller CYOA. The one set in 1632 is just basically just a 1632 story where another ISOT occurs before Grantville, and further north.

So Autumn of Empires can loosely be divided into four periods
1913-1915 The White Wolf Rebellion Years
1915-1928 The Warlord Years
1937-1946 The Second Sino Japanese War
Another World Sidestory starting in 1942 Destroyermen cross

Technically the outline broadly goes through the sixties, and touches on some other things. I've talked about a later sidestory project with more GURPS multiverse stuff, but I'm also considering running the White Wolf years into the Warlord years, while still doing the Another World sidestory and mostly not focusing on the second world war content directly.

Lost by Shards is similar in the premise to Dominion of the Baltics Sea on their respective surfaces.
Both follow transplants of entire counties into the past. Shards is transplanted into Island of the Sea of Time's bronze age alongside Nantucket at the same time. While Dominion ISOTs the county it focuses on at the time of the Siege Stralsund in 1628. That is to say it occurs about three years before Grantville appears in Thuringia (1631) concurrent to the sack of Magdeburg. The Prologue (set after the ring of fire can be found here:Prologue 1628 May, with other segments forthcoming.)

As a general statement on content 1632 and ISOT aren't especially lurid, well not enough to warrant real censorship though admittedly both have scenes in the novels that are a little eyebrow quirking in places. Quite frankly I'll probably limit any content to that sort of material, and that should be safe enough for work. To be honest in the current configuration these shorts, are snippets, they focus on individual scenes with sometimes weeks of gaps between them. Its a writing style I use to brainstorm and cache ideas for, etc.

--
The Emberverse Waifu Catalog story will not be going up here. For that matter I don't know if whenever I get back to picking up if Dragonborn will go up here. That is based of the Alternate History CYOA though with a bit more magic, and some admittedly stretching how much butterflying would be done. Its largely set in an expansionist early samurai clan japan where magic is real, and descent (the titular dragonborn) live significantly longer than normal people as a result the emerging feudal warrior class 'samurai' have increasingly greater and greater territorial control. That would probably fit better here.

Steppe Isekai will not be going up here. I don't know if I'll move all of my 'Isekai' genre stories into their own thread but I'm not going to be posting them here. The two ISOT style Alternate History stories and AoE operate in explicitly alternate versions of past earth while the Isekai stories largely take place in fantasy versions that are similar but with a lot more magic. (Even though AoE and Lost by Shards have magic going on in them.)

Autumn of Empires series disclaimer:
The following will be edited as necessary.

Firstly this is predominantly alternate history. Many of the events and characters used are based off of real life events and persons however there are differences, but additionally it is Alternate HIstory there are divergences, but also because and this needs to be stressed there is a supernatural aspect.

There are magic bits, sorcery, monsters, mystics and so on. There will be in the inter years nazis on occultist treasure hunting expeditions. Magic does not make a frequent appearance, and its use is uncommon to the point most of the shamans and other people trying to make that claim are imposters, either charlatans looking to make a quick buck or exploit people or people trying to claim something they saw someone with the talent do often for political or social influence, a cause.

The bulk of the story though is divorced from this 'midnight world' rarely intersecting with magical plots because it is rare, and most of the time its just normal greed, normal ambition, and the fact that this is set in a chaotic time. As above this opens in 1913 and will run through cold war. That gives me room to segue into the 'crossover' fanfiction portion of this. The Destroyermen cross, as well as any GURPS multiverse crossover segments that get written, can be freely detached from the main story. 'Another World', the destroyermen cross, occurs alongside of World War 2's events, and it and the GURPS multiverse segments can be thought of an eventual divergence from the more grounded story of a mostly normal earth timeline.
 
Last edited:
White Wolf Rebellion The Beginning
AoE
The White Wolf Rebellion
He could remember the feeling of the thing. Just into the new year of 1898 a mine had struck the hull of the armored cruiser Maine in Havana harbor. So even though the US had fought as part of the Eight Nations Alliance America's focus had been elsewhere. War with Spain, and then the war in the Philippines had resulted in congress insisting the army graduate the classes early. So it had happened, but the Government hadn't been blind to wider Asia and so cognizant of such things Allen had ended up sailing all over the distant east. Of course part of that was that by the time they'd taken the train across the states after graduation most of the damn fighting had wrapped up so a victory had been declared. That had been a little premature of course, but on high had made their decision and that meant the newest members of the corp of Engineers spent time in Japan, Korea, and of course China.

He tossed Edenborn's latest letter onto the table. Word from the states was good. Truthfully he'd have liked to have been able to respond the same, but it wasn't the case. John Allen Forrest had been thirty with the outbreak of the Xinhai rebellion in the south. It had been his first encounter with Bai Lang during a visit to Shijiazhuang, and it looked like now Bai Lang meant to fight him for the city. The latter was apparently was clear enough that General Wood knew, which was deeply embittering in its own way.

He glanced around taking in a room in a house that truthfully he spent too little time there, and not for the first time he wondered if his father felt the same way about the home in Augusta. In all honesty if General Wood knew it was only a matter of time before his maternal grandfather sent a letter. If General Wood knew it would only be a matter of time before Colonel McCulloch sent a scathing letter to Bill for that matter, but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing either though. Colonel McCulloch was apt to sent more guns along with the letter if he thought a fight was brewing, and that was useful. China was a country with so few arsenals that he'd been shot at by men armed with weapons his grandfather would have considered antiquated as a boy. He reached out and slammed the rolling lid of the desk down with a crash.

He was out of the door in three long strides, and into his garden. It was bright in the afternoon, but he knew he'd be leaving again. Leaving again too soon. Allen reached up to stroke his chin. If Wood knew then old man Yamagata had to know. "Shit." He muttered. Not that he had figured it'd be possible to keep the fighting a secret, and word would spread. That would mean that he'd start having to contend with concerns about investors. That would have to be secondary. If that asshole kept fucking with his trains then it would screw with trade between Hankou and Peking, which was probably the whole damned point. Hankou, Hanyang and Wuchang were all along the river, and in the interior of the country but there had been and still was plenty of revolutionary sentiment against the central government to be had there.

The year was 1913 and here he was fighting bandits trying to rob trains like this was the wild west. Had they actually gone so far east they'd ended up in a new western frontier. He wondered sometimes, and on days like this it really seemed like that was the case. He reached down and rested a hand on the holstered ivory Browning pistol he'd gotten the year before. In a few minutes he'd need to go back inside. The Browning rifle was a year older than the pistol, or its twin, and it was a replacement for a preceding version who's stock he'd cracked during the Xinhai revolt.

The door slid open, "If you can hear the tiger he is not hunting for you." Jun muttered disparagingly, "Even so I have to question whether or not that motherless mongrel can't hear your crunching all the way in his lair." She was a tall woman, and only looked short in comparison to the fact that even by the standards of western men he was tall.

"You sound like Colonel Wood."

"I believe he also stated that you are rascal with a penchant for overly bold sweeping maneuvers." She swatted him on the arm. "And that you have a tendency to use rude language, and are overly direct."

Well he had also been eighteen. "Jun,"

"Do not," She snapped, "You should have killed Lea when he sided with Sun Yat-Sen." It was likely true, but the man was dead now anyway. "Even if he isn't the one who told the mutt about the rail line it was one of the others. That doctor playing general has only seen to it that ten miles of railway have been made in three years." Another swat, which was fair. In the same three years he had laid three hundred miles of track total. "Is that corruption? Is it treason?" Was it both? "When the Qing fell it was not by Southern armies, Yuan Shikai took greater power, surely Sun Yat-Sen seethed at this, and even if wasn't man enough to do so, his retainers would have. Certainly the mongrel chewing on everything right now claims to act on the southern doctor's behalf."

"Are you done?"

"Are you sufficiently awake?" She retorted. "Bai Lang was educated in Japan in the studies of war. The core of his army are men who deserted with him from his unit, and while Duan Qirui will be sent from the capital he may not be sufficiently direct either."

Or less politely Duan Qirui was going to want to secure his own power. Qirui was an educated man, but he was nearly fifty it wasn't like he had much experience in fighting in modern conditions. "Bai's getting guns from Canada, we've known it for a while now." He inhaled and closed his eyes. He thought about the facts. "Yes, the core of his army is the cadre of deserters from the 6th division but he's been recruiting." Most of the reports were increasingly of teenagers and boys not old enough to shave, "and that means he'll need more weapons." He'd need bullets too. The anti bandit operations of the year before had meant that most of the local bandit chiefs had been killed. "I don't have the manpower to dislodge him from the gorge he's holed himself up in... well not conventionally." Charging in wouldn't work, Bai Lang had machine guns.

A key part of the success of railway construction was using modern chemicals.

"You should raise an army."

"An army? No. A regiment maybe." He looked around the garden. "If I'm going to go wolf hunting, then I'll raise something fast and mobile. Impressing men into service doesn't do that. A uniform isn't a costume to be put on, and a gun isn't magic. If you can't hit the enemy its just a waste of time." Calling something an army just because it was huge was wrong. A rabble, was a rabble, was a rabble. "But I guess its a good thing that we have those potato diggers after all." He thought about another letter in the desk. Isaac and Bill Crozier had never gotten along, and maybe General Crozier had been overly harsh in rejecting the new gun... but Isaac cutting off to Europe wasn't the most mature of responses either.

"You will need rifles as well."

He'd purchased his first Model 98 rifle from a catalog while he'd still been in Joseon after all. When he'd still been in the army, and when the department was salivating to know about how the other militaries were doing things. It was a good rifle. As far as such things went it was probably the best option, if for no other reason than it being available and in the right caliber. The question was how many could they get. How many did the cadre have on hand. "I'll need rifles," He agreed. They'd hoped to be able to sell locally produced Remington Rifles to the Qing.... back when the Qing had still been around. "That is something we can address though."

--


quese3gc9bz41.png
Original First Build: https://forum.questionablequesting.com/threads/general-qq-cyoa-thread.1263/page-1598#post-3362781 without Meta addition.

As a note this portion, the titular White Wolf Rebellion takes place before the CYOA's start date, but this is the CYOA that originally spawned the Autumn of Empire's story idea. So basically as it happens this takes place from 1913 to, well I have material charted through world war 2. As mentioned in the OP I'll probably jump around in different time periods for snippets.

To expound upon this further though:
So the CYOA opens with Yuan Shikai dead. (6 June/July 1916). The White Wolf Rebellion segment opens in lets say this is April of 1913. The White Wolf Rebellion lasts to basically the start of World War 1. (28 July 1914). This means for that time period it covers the southern second revolution as well as the opening of the war. Roughly 16 Months. The National Protection War ran from Christmas day 1915 to Bastille day 1916. (25 December 1915 to 14 July 1916).

So The Second Revolution was, as would prove basically prototypical of the latter 'wars' between various warlords, lasted about two months to four months depending on how you want to count. From about July 10th to September encompassed most of the major fighting. alternatively it can go out to November when really the last holdouts in the south were done. To put this in perspective Sun Yat-sen ran away to Taiwan in early August, and then fled to Japan proper after that. Bai Lang was still in the field 'nominally' at least fighting for the KMT against Yuan until he was driven west, at which point most likely troops in Kansu shot him in the face in late July or early August (1914). However the Second Revolution really established the breaking down of central authority.

It very much foreshadowed the National Protection War, and the warlord era as a whole. So in this context the White Wolf Rebellion runs from April 1913 to the start of world war 1. With a gap of almost two years from the content occurring after the start date of the CYOA proper.

Most of the technological matters are either based off of real world weapons and patents, machines so forth, or evolutions of designs that would have been feasible. For example the Mondragon rifle was the first nationally adopted semi automatic rifle and the reason Mexico ended up ditching it is because their ammunition industry wasn't capable of supplying quality ammunition, which caused problems. The mondragon like the Liu rifle as a military rifle was capable of being fired in a bolt action configuration but was expensive to manufacture so these designs didn't go anywhere in favor of mauser, and mauser like rifle designs.

This is part of the reason why Xian never ends up adopting the BAR, it instead gets the Lewis gun early, makes its own modifications, and then puts in the work to make Lewis's Assault Phase Rifle of 1917 / 18, 3rd Generation, feasible and then continues to make modifications. This is also along with domestic Model 8 type rifle production what delays production of a semi automatic infantry service rifle, because everytime Xian will consider it, well Northern Expedition happens, Manchurian incident happens, Second Sino Japanese war happens. All of that though is really into the future of this as again the CYOA opens in July 1916, which of course will be two years after White Wolf will close.
 
Last edited:
White Wolf Rebellion 2
AoE White Wolf Rebellion
Spring of 1913
The weather outside was mild, and dry. It was good weather for shooting. His mind wasn't worried about anything fritzing his performance. In fact his thoughts were on the past.

In 1905 Morgan had made the decision to close the Legation to Korea. Allen wasn't entirely certain he had forgiven the man for that, though objectively with age he knew there wasn't shit Morgan could have done otherwise. At the time though he'd been furious that Morgan had interrupted the work he'd been doing on the railroad. On the other hand it had probably stopped him from putting a bullet in Hayashi.... though the only reason that was positive was begun if Allen had shot the smug bastard from eleven hundred meters the Japs would have gone ballistic, and taken it out on the people of Joseon. Any sniper attack on Hayashi would have just been assumed to have been the action of the Righteous Army, and no one would have looked too hard for another explanation.

After all they'd been doing that sort of thing of thing with western rifles.

He squeezed. There was a boom and a hundred ninety eight grains lanced down range. There was a ding from the metal sheet hanging from the wire. Bill whistled, "Alright, alright." He hefted his own Mauser 98, "I reckon I can make that." The cattle baron's son declared before Boom and matching Ding rang. He had made the shot and was showing off. Watie simply rolled his eyes at the Texan's little dance and made it three for three without a word.

Allen had never quite understood Mauser's decision to use such a complicated windage on the rear aperture, but it wasn't like you couldn't say it didn't work. When he had first gotten the rifle though he'd been afraid it would break if he took into the field. He was still concerned that that might happen eventually. Not everyone could be here of course. Some people still had to work today after all.

"So an army."

"Nothing as grand."

Watie looked at him, and slung his rifle, "John Allen, when the congress formed the department of war it was something like seven hundred men. Now, that was just for the army." Maybe that was so, "Look if you don't want to call it an army, sure fine." He looked to the first batch of men, "But look at these fellows who volunteered," And they were the volunteers who they were pretty sure they could accept, and train, and would be capable of passing the training, "We asked for volunteers, and there were thousands of them." Young, old, and from every walk of life. "And its not like Bai has been making friends exactly so sure that's part of it."

That wasn't entirely true. Bai Lang had been a bandit for a couple years now, and he hadn't managed that by not having support. There were peasants out in the countryside who he supported, and who supported him in turn. There were peasants, and coolies, and whatever else who'd shelter, and feed him and his horses, and more who'd pass word to him.

"He has a couple thousand hombres."

Allen nodded at Bill's interjection, "I've been thinking about that." In all honesty he had been thinking about should Jun had jumped his case about seeking a more proactive 'pursuit' of the problem. The basic problem of society were the root ills. The bare necessities had to be acquired or people died. Desperate people did desperate things. Famines were a key part of Bai Lang's popular support. The villages he supported were at risk months out of the year before the harvest came in, and so Bai Lang could rely on them to support him if he gave them an opportunity. That had proven true during the Xinhai when he'd turned his people lose on the Manchu towns, and it seemed like he was doing the same against the Hui now. That made sense the Hui had been strongly supportive of the Manchu. The disintegration of the Qing had let them even scores that been accumulating for decades. "If we take the Beiyang model about twelve hundred men are in a division." Which was more like two battalions, "I'm not going to call something a division. Similarly Bai Lang knows as long as he keeps his people fed, and promises them loot from their traditional enemies, or at least their rivals he can count on their support." It wasn't like the Moros in the Philippines had only attacked Americans after all. They'd been just as happy to settle grudges with other islanders when the opportunity came up. The same was true for other people there, and it was true here. "We'll need to restore law and order, and that means economically things have to be stable, and that means stamping out famine. Bai Lang attacking the rails means he can stop us from shipping food and that is a problem." They needed the people at every strata to be unified together against Bai Lang or more accurately in support of the company, and the best way for that was to show tangible benefits. Just winning, or driving the bandits off would help, but it wouldn't make them feel involved in the solution, they would just feel like they were paying tribute in order to be protected from bandits. That could in the current climate easily turn into resentment. "That is something that is much more intensive and involved than simply training some men to fight." They were going to have to do that too. They were going to have to do a lot of things.

Bill rested a hand on the stock of his rifle just ahead of the brass tacks at the rear. "You think we can do it Al?" He eased the rifle nimbly to rest over one shoulder, "There are less than three hundred of us. We barely have enough people to run the schools even with help. I'll back whatever play you make, but if we're gonna do this."

"Then we will need more people. I know. The Federal Army to use Waite's example is one and a quarter centuries old. There are people still shooting at us with flintlocks." He picked up a slender metallic cartridge. "The Qing, Joseon, Japan tried, and are trying to modernize. We're no longer in the Concession. We left Tianjin to build something bigger. That something needs its own protection, because ask yourselves this? Is Sun Yat-sen going to stop? Why would he after all, neither he nor Yuan Shikai are blameless."

"Sun's American."

Waite scoffed, "Not American enough the State Department was adamantly against Lea trying to help him out." The doctor's american citizenship just wasn't enough.

"Money talks," Bill replied, "But I concede the point. No body can prove Yuan ordered Song's death, I ain't saying he didn't do it, but at the same time Bai was raising Cain back at Christmas. Song getting shot has nothing to do with it."

At least Song hadn't gotten shot in one of their stations, but him getting shot in one had still been alarming. "That's why we should focus on the problem at hand." He looked over to the body of the volunteers, "Let this be the acorn that grows into a mighty oak." Allen finished. By his estimation on the body of reports available from the Qing at least, and estimates derived, he would say that China had somewhere in the ballpark of four hundred million people. The Beiyang Army of Yuan Shikai, the provisional president of the Republic of China, was structured nominally on a western style. In practice though that meant the units were small... far smaller than they should have been. "We will model this on four platoons to a company. Three companies to a battalion. Seven hundred fifty men to a battalion. We need at least two battalions. Bai Long has at least that many men, probably more. Waite I need you to figure out what all rifles we can actually put into men's hands." He knew they had about four hundred Mauser 98 Rifles. "More than that, we'll need to know what ammo we can actually expand manufacturing of." He rolled the cartridge between his fingers. The German Legation was pretty friendly, the minister would be willing to sell them rifles... and artillery too. If they were going to flush the wolf from his lair he wanted reach if he could get it. "I hate that Griswold isn't back yet." It was a wonder that State hadn't tried to do to them like they'd done to Lea... then again they were for the moment at least on the right side.


Yuan Shikai liked them, or at least he liked the fact they could manage to run a productive rail line and build mines and steel mills and so forth. "We can send Griswold a telegraph." That was true. Watie looked to the loose ranks again, "Well on the plus side its not like the Qing weren't letting rich folks raise their own armies to fight bandits anyway... some of the turnout was probably people waiting for someone to declare a forming of the militia."

"Yeah I'd sure hate to have to spin some yarn about 'policing the railroads'." Allen remarked. He was right about that though Yuan wasn't likely to pay a couple hundred men, or even a few thousand men any mind. If Yuan Shikai wasn't going to so anything than Feng wouldn't. "It is true that that's most of what they'll be doing though."

"So we just spring on him we're building an army?"

"Why not? The university already teaches military science." Part of the reason that they were sure Yuan wouldn't mind was because of the Xinhai revolt, and the fact that western military advisors were so in demand. Western Experts in general were in demand, but the Chinese were desperate for foreigners to train men to fight and lead. People spoke well of the Wu Wei, and the Ever Victorious Army and men dreamed of being members of the next sort of formation like those. "Lets bring start at a hundred meters."

"That ain't fair, plenty of our guys who turned out have handled rifles before. Thats too easy for them." BIll protested.

"Basics, its the fundamentals Bill. All of them need to start at the beginning." The fancy stuff could wait. Even with their contacts abroad it would take time to bring in even limited weapons.
 
White Wolf Rebellion May 1913
May 1913
The earliest attacks on their railroads had been actually before the fall of the Qing. Not much earlier, and really calling them attacks was probably stretching things. They had just started to settle in, and those acts had initially been minor sabotage, and distractions. It had been a mix of protesting coolies, and bandits looking for quick cash. Then of course the Qing Imperial Army had started shooting protestors, and then everything had gone to hell after that. He had shot people in Joseon, and seen more action in the Philippines, but Allen considered the Xinhai rebellion in 1911 to have been his first real war. It had been those attacks in eastern Zhili that had brought them to Yuan Shikai's side. This was hopefully going to be more mild.

Cole spat into the dirt in irritation. Allen agreed with the sentiment. "They're using firecrackers," He grunted in reply to the staccato coming from over there, "And that idiot keeps poking his head out,"

"It could be a trap." He replied glancing across the way. He figured it was maybe two hundred yards. In their present situation neither side had advantageous ground. They were on a large stretch of open area in the yard with buildings on either side with just a pounded earthenwork path in between.

Another scoff, "They're too stupid for that." Cole snarled, "They are just smart enough to know they can't afford to waste the ammo."

He adjusted his face against the rifle as the 'idiot' stuck his head out again. Cole beat him to it. The 6.5mm Swede boomed and punched through one side of the bandit's face and then out the other in an explosion of gore. The other American pulled back down and smirked as he worked the bolt. "Too slow brother John."

This time the report were real bullets. A couple rounds kicked dirt. The Maxim chattered, but went high as it raked left. It was answered by a potato digger on their side of the impromptu line. Then both sides stopped. Allen swung his Remington Model 8 towards the machine gun, and squeezed. There was a report as the 35 caliber bullet's, all two hundred grains, hit the metal of the gunner's shield, and he adjusted.

A 7mm Mauser Rolling Block fired somewhere up from a second storey of one of the buildings back behind them. It was a rifle that they had a couple of crates of because they had been cheap. They were accurate too, and fired a modern cartridge, and that made them useful. "Who was that?" He asked. Back before the Xinhai revolt there had been maybe seventy eighty Chinese who'd seen some action. There had been some more guys who'd seen action in the Xinhai, and in a way the volunteers from formed a rough basis of the first recruits's NCO corp.

"Beats me," Cole replied loosening his shoulders, and anything else was drowned out by the sudden staccato of more firecrackers abruptly cooking off.

They had a few hundred men. At the height of Qing power.... well that wasn't accurate, but during the First Sino Japanese War the Qing has boasted that they had a million men in their army. That had been divided between the Banners, the Braves, and the Green Standard Army. It had done them a fat lot of good against the Japanese, but the point stood. The amount of men they had was a far cry from the Qing's nominal numbers, or even for that matter Bai Lang who'd been doing this for years now.

He swore he heard a Martini-Henry fire from somewhere across the street. Cole shrugged, and it shouldn't have come as a surprise during the Xinhai rebellion both sides had used Gatling guns against each other, and he'd been shot at by muskets some in the .75 caliber range then as well. "Well they're about to charge," He muttered seeing a rattling of steel from the line.

"Told you they knew at least enough that they couldn't waste ammo." Cole muttered.

It wasn't like he had been in disagreement. Then the first men came up and over. They were dressed in a wide variety of brightly colored silks and linen, and that made them all the easier to make out in the dusty roadside. "Here they come." An NCO barked orders to fix bayonets... at least to them who had rifles with bayonets to fix. "Ready?"

"Ready as we'll ever be." Cole retorted, "I'll make sure they stay off that Maxim, you keep them off me?"

It wasn't a serious question, "Deal," Allen replied shouldering his Model Eight. The first men were up and running at them, and the NCO was yelling to hold fire. There was more movement, and saw more men prepare to jump up and go over the ditch and towards them. The NCO dutifully continued to order the men to wait. The first wave of attackers fired sporadically in their direction. Hold, but that only lasted till they were about hundred fifty yards, at which point sporadic return fire erupted from their own lines. "Machine Gun!" He roared.

The potato digger sounded up again. This time bodies dropped. The other guys were somewhere they could drop down to and out of the way of the machine gun's fusillade. He didn't bother trying to count just to make sure no one else got closer. The NCO was still bellowing for the men to hold their positions even as the Colt-Browning went quiet.

He swept sideways as another volley of fire went high from men on the other side. There just was no good angle to be had with them paired down like this across the damn yard. He canted upwards to double check no one had moved up into the buildings on the other side, but he couldn't see anyone in the water tower, or any of the windows.

"Here they come again."

He saw them. It was a little hard to miss the rising heads of horses after all. The ponies tried to clamber up the embankment, and he had to glance sideways to the machine gunner to figure out whether he needed to order them to fire. "Get that back on." Allen roared, which wasn't the most helpful advice for the gun. He hadn't precisely liked the gun in the Philippines so he shouldn't have been surprised. He fired. At this range 35 Remington could take a moose or a grizzly the small Asiatic or north china pony wasn't any trouble. Still their appearance made him wary of more showing up from some other direction. He pushed a stripper clip down into his emptied Remington.

Then it was over.

"Looks like they're running back for the water."

"They'll probably try and cross back over and regroup." He agreed. "Bai is not going to be happy to have lost a Maxim. He can't possibly have that many of them."

Cole swung his carbine and then lowered. "We'll just have to keep it put up for him. It looks as overheated as ours is anyway." They approached wary of the men laying on the ground. "This is Qing marked. Bet he stole it from 7th​ Division." That made sense.

There was no sense in not taking it back with them either. Machine guns were rare, and expensive. It was something of a relief since it meant this gun hadn't come from Bai's supporters in Canada. He was about to say something when one of the bodies pushed upward and raised a long saber. Allen swung his Remington dead center of the man's chest and fired until the slide locked back. The 35 zipped through the man's breast plate and three went out of his back and into the dirt. He slung the rifle and drew one of the 1911s. At least it hadn't been magic. He'd been worried there for a hare's breath.

The NCO ordered the bayonet armed troops forward.

This was was likely to be the new normal. This was how wars were going to fought at least to some extent. You needed machine guns, and semi automatics would certainly help to. "You still talking to Isaac?"

"Yep."

"You should see if he wants to move here. If we're getting artillery." Cole remarked. "He won't be nearly as obnoxious as Dawes is. Have you seen the old man's shopping list?"

"Its funny you think Newton will be any different than Dawes is about the newest bits." Allen retorted sweeping the charnel house of bodies laid low. With no immediate threat he holstered the pistol, unslung his Remington. He rested the carbine forward and reloated it with a fresh stripper clip from the leather cartridge pouch behind his left hip. "I told him to be judicious but I guess we'll see, won't we?"

--
It was self evident that they couldn't keep doing this. On the other hand he couldn't guess what the time frame for when it might really bite them. During the Xinhai revolt most of the fighting had been done with still swords, and spears and single shot rifles. Most of the killing though had been done by artillery, fire or machine gun. It was an important distinction. Most of the fighting had been horribly one sides the rebels killed civilians, the Imperial army killed rebels, and more or less that had been the bulk of it. The problem had been the writing on the wall. The South, where Sun Yat-sen had been based had sat out the Boxer rebellion having declared neutrality. In effect they had declared their independence from the Qing court, and the Empress Dowager. Even though the majority of the revolutionaries hadn't had much better in the way of weapons than the Boxers had, there had been a lot more of them to contend with.

Allen really hoped that that wasn't going to be the case this go around. Yuan Shikai had headed off an even longer bloody war by negotiating the abdication of the boy emperor Pu Yi and had with the Beiyang Army gotten to be President of the New Republic. Yuan had then neatly started handing out rewards to everyone on his side of things, which hadn't made the southern revolutionaries happy. If Allen were honest, it wasn't unlikely Yuan had either ordered Song's death, or one of his supporters had taken it upon themselves to do it.

It was why they weren't just trying to issues rifles to everyone. Yan scratched his chin. They had met through a mutual, Japanese, acquaintance after Yan had returned from studying in Japan. He was also a potential threat, because two years earlier Yan had decided to throw in with Sun against the Manchu. "You are bringing doctors in."

"Given all the shooting, yeah." It wasn't that they didn't have doctors already, but it wasn't the same thing.

Yan nodded. "I have no ability to fight the Beiyang Army even if I was committed to the cause." Which of course implied he wasn't, or maybe he was. "I accept that we cannot simply continue to allow bandits to run amok in the countryside. Not the least of which is because Bai Lang is attacking trains, and factories which are necessary for the future. Bai Lang is a bandit, and I will not shelter him, but I also do not have the resources to pursue him either."

"Alright," A month earlier Yuan Shikai had decided the Army of the Republic would need to be fifty divisions instead of forty. That meant more foreign loans of course. "How many troops does Bai Lang have, you must have some idea? How many are former revolutionaries?"

"The President did stand down eighty thousand men last summer," He replied as her pursed his lips in thought, "Of those at least half turned to banditry after being released, Bai Lang might have fifty thousand men." and Allen questioned that number, because it seemed absurdly high, and as if recognizing this, "If not all his own, then at least other bandit gangs who he can call upon to help him out." Yan went on to explain that since they were bandits of course it was doubtful they'd been all that reliable or timely in responding to help, especially outside of their home provinces, but it was what he had heard.

"And how many of those are alumni of the Blood and Iron Society?"

Yan flinched at the question, "Some of them studied in Japan." After a pause to consider he continued, "Bai divides his army into three specialties." He held up his thumb, "Spies to look for plunder." Index finger, "Bandits to do the plundering." He raised his middle finger, "And merchants to use the money to acquire goods he can't otherwise steal. Like rifles. The largest of these are obviously the bandits, and they're organized into smaller units. Because Bai Lang thinks that because he has politics he spreads out postcards, and distributes goods when it benefits him. This seems to be handled or overseen by his lieutenants, but I can't say for sure how frequent that is. Most of his propaganda is simple, if effective, and hasn't changed much from the days of the First Revolution. I honestly can't say how much assistance he is actually getting from Canton."

Truthfully he doubted Bai Lang was getting much support at all from Canton. "Anything you want to ask?"

"How many men are you going to raise?"

That was a dangerous question. It was true Yan was being forthright about this, but it wasn't unlikely Yan would turn around and tell someone else the answers. "Including the labor corps, we're thinking about five thousand men through next year."

"I know you are building, or were building Remington rifles, but you have the weapons for this?"

"Yeah," Or they would. "The actually fighting element should be about thirty five hundred men. If it works we'll double it as we have the resources." Fifteen hundred men, another two thousand second line volunteers. Then hopefully another fifteen hundred frontline, and then more. They had more volunteers than they had guns for, and Yan probably knew that much.

"Then you have that much of advantage against Bai Lang. Most of his bandits don't actually have guns. Or if they do they are quite outdated now. On the other hand, he knows you can manufacture rifles of modern design." Something that would only expand once Griswold got back with the expanded order. "What will you do then?"

"The first thing?" He shrugged, "We bought a production license from Mauser before the Xinhai rebellion kicked off," Griswold was in part gone to go buy more tooling to expand that. The original plan had been to sell rifles to the Qing's New Armies, but that had fallen through obviously. They had planned originally to sell Remingtons to the Qing, and then Mausers, but by the time they were set up to start small production ... well people had started shooting each other.

"You are in Zhili, you are even closer to Peking than Hanyang, so Bai Lang is more likely to try and rob them." Of course even with Duan Qirui in the neighborhood Bai might think it was worth it to risk it. "And of course there are some old grudges. I have a hard time buying things." Not the least of which was because Yan was cash poor, but he was right the Beiyang commanders were constantly jockeying for weapons.

"Cao Kun has a tendency to throw money around if it means he can buy quality ammo," Allen commented. The commander of Beiyang's third division had fought in the Sino-Japanese war in 84...

"Yes Cao Kun is very distrustful of his own ammunition supplies." Yan paused to pick up his tea cup, "What about Feng?"

"He buys ammo from us, but Cao Kun is..." Allen paused. "His cabinet post creates a problem with that of Sun Yat-sen."

"Because Sun is nominally in charge of trains, while Cao Kun is supposed to handle the posts. He may suspect his third division might be called to quell any trouble. He does not like the prospect of being sent into Szechwan to quell the unrest there." That was for good reason. Zhili was comfortable and largely quiet. Szechwan was a madhouse of rampant banditry, and armed roving marauders up to and including slaving parties. "I am surprised though that Sun has not made a greater effort, you are an immensely capable organizer," He supposed that was a polite way of saying Industrial Agitator, as some other people called him, "and you have many ties in both England, America, and Japan."

"You've heard something from them?"

"I still speak with some of those men I attended classes with." He replied as the topic of discussion shifted from the southern doctor who wanted to be a revolutionary, to the house of the rising sun. The idea that in a mere fifteen months the world be irrevocably different was completely out of the question.
 
May 1913 (II)
May 1913 (II)
The result of the conflicts of the 1850s, the convention of Peking, and so on, was opening up the interior of the great countryside. There were a handful of 'proper' concessions inland, but the only one worth speaking of was Hankow. There were however plenty of missionaries and other spots of western influence scattered throughout the countryside all the way to Tibet, and into Burma, Cochin and wherever else parts south. There were a patchwork of western owned, or built factories throughout the country from every civilized nation under the sky. The fall of the Qing hadn't changed that.

This wasn't Tietsin though. Officially he didn't have law enforcement powers. At the same though when you got right down to it Feng, the de jure provincial governor, had no real interest in stopping them either. Feng had too much else on his plate, and turned a blind eye to policing the railways. The Qing hadn't cared either. It was just the status quo. Bandits were something that 'locals' were supposed to deal with. The difference though was not that Feng continued to turn a blind eye this going on, but that Allen was currently reading the paper as the bald man in the European style uniform sat down. His peaked cap had that ugly five colored star on it.

They made small talk, and took almost an hour for him to broach the subject of Bai Lang running amok. That was fine. That Feng was even showing up to talk about it in person was kind of a surprise. It made more sense with Yuan talking about sending Duan Qirui to deal with. Feng could very be venting about or just saying it was Qirui's problem. Neither Feng, nor Allen really seemed to expect Duan to be able to do anything about Bai Lang.

The truth was that even though rail travel was faster than horses... most of the time... and especially over distances they only went between fixed points. Bai Lang was highly mobile. His bandits had huge herds of horses to ride and use to carry their loot. They also weren't staying as a single unit, or having units stay anywhere for too long. Rather they weren't staying anywhere within easy striking distance of a rail line for very long.

Speaking of rail lines here to Peking was about a hundred sixty miles. That was fine. North wasn't an issue. There was just no way they'd be able to build a rail line separate down to Hankow. There was already one anyway that ran down there, but even so it had only been open about six years now. It was probably the most important railline in the country even... and as a result that was why Bai Lang was able to raise such a fuss. Feng clearly felt comfortable enough not to be worried that Bai Lang might try something.

Not worried enough that he wasn't travelling with bodyguards... but then Feng was high enough up in Beiyang that it wasn't unreasonable to expect the Guomindang to view him as fair game for a little tit for tat. It had been two months since Song Jiaoren had been shot in the back at a train station down south.

That had to be weighing on him. There was no telling how long Feng would be governor of the province either. The thing that came to mind though was Bai Lang probably didn't a good god damn about Song. At best it would be one more grievance to claim, and air against Yuan Shikai, but Bai most likely didn't care enough to even go that far. For all the newspapers wanted to talk about Robin Hood this and that Bai Lang was just a guy with a grudge making his way through the world.

The problem of course was that he was going down the road right through him. Allen put the paper down on the side of the table, and looked over the railing to the busy street below. Most people were walking, but there were a handful of electric cars, and trolleys. Nothing as fancy as in Tietsin of course, and massively out numbered by horses. Someday though. They just had to get through Bai Lang first. The problem really though was the time. Bai Lang had been acting up before all of this... and they'd known that they were going to have to do something even before Song had gotten shot in Shanghai.

Allen wasn't going to quibble about election this or election that. He might not have been able, or willing to say with proof that Yuan had ordered the shooting... it wasn't unlikely either. There was too much going on, and to be honest...

If you were going to be honest Song's death was irrelevant. The politics didn't mean a thing. They were just two people, and their friends and supporters in each other's way. Bai Lang could pretend he was Robin Hood all he wanted. He could distribute all the screeds he wanted. It didn't change the fact that what he was doing just took food from one group, and distributed it to his followers, and their families. That much Allen could understand.

--
"And these are copies of the telegraphs." Which they had been supplied from officially from Cao Kun's office. Unofficially well that was a different story... though they had gotten copies from Cao Kun "Couple with Bingjun resigning."

"It doesn't tell us anything we didn't already suspect." Allen replied, and it didn't change anything either. Cao Kun had only confirmed what everybody had been thinking. Zhao Bingjun protesting that he was innocent of wrongdoing had still chosen to resign in order to save face. That, and he probably didn't want to be an obvious target for retaliation. Maybe him choosing to step down would assuage the tension, but Allen doubted it. "If you listen to southern," From the young KMT "propaganda," both the crazies yelling on the street and the flyers they put out, "You'd be completely oblivious that the only reason anything changed in 1911 was because Yuan talked the court into an abdication." All the rest was window dressing when you got right down to it. That was a problem because all that shouting just stoked the dissent the would be revolutionaries felt in dealing with things.

Still shooting Song in public... had been brazen. Of course unlike Sun Yat-sen Song probably had been the bigger worry because of his ties to the middle class. That was speculation Allen knew as he got up and began pacing the polished hardwood floors of the room. Song had campaigned on moderate lines stressing all the right notes about property rights, and deemphasizing land mines like land reform. He had been using the exact opposite of Bai Lang's talking points in spite of both of them claiming to be a part of the doctor's movement.

He turned on his heel. Cole clinked the bottle on the mouth of his glass, the caramel colored bourbon filling it. "What?" He asked. "You just said it doesn't tell us anything."

"It does." A firm voice remarked, "copies of the telegraphs records could be gathered from unofficial sources, and not just for this." Hina was almost as tall as Cole was, and taller than even some of the members which comprised the cadre. It wouldn't have been incorrect to say Allen had a certain type. Hina also owned the hotel, and some other parts around town. The hotel though was her pride and joy, and it and its restaurant provided a slice of western comfort away from all the bustle of construction and all the rest going on. "This was a problem in Joseon, too as you will recall."

She had a point there. The Japanese, and the Russians had both been building railways and telegraphs... and just like Cao Kun had no problem passing them official copies of the telegrams the late, and unlamented, Lee Wan-Ik had passed such documents to the Japanese. It wasn't quite identical, Cao Kun legitimately didn't see any harm to passing the information on. It wasn't like they were going to use it to stir up trouble. That, and Cao Kun might have thought that having the information available might be a complication for Zhao's political ambitions.

Cole stood up and collected his glass and bottle. "I'm going to the air show Yuan is putting on in Peking. I think its just him preening, but well you read the letter." Colonel McCulloch's letter to Bill had been about the ongoing Mexican civil war and hiring pilots from the aerial circus.

"I didn't think the new planes he'd purchased had arrived?" At the confirmation that the new Caudron had not arrived Allen quirked an eyebrow. The Ettrichs, from Germany, had also taken a while to get delivered to, and the only other aircraft Allen knew Yuan had in his possession were a couple of Bleriot trainers. Yuan had supposedly sent the Bleriots out to fly over Revolutionary lines during the Xinhai revolt, but Allen had never seen it, and he wasn't sure if it had happened when the Revolutionaries had actually been shooting at the Beiyang troops. He hadn't seen the aircraft fly until 1912 had rolled around when the shooting had all been done and Yuan was president.

Cole departed the private room without looking back. The junior officer all but fled after him. That left the two of them standing there. "Hmm," She remarked at the departure. "Such a hurry."

"I've never asked, but did Ae Sin arrange for Hirobumi's death?" It had been so different from her usual modus operandi he hadn't thought about it, but it really hadn't been that different from how other parts of the 'Righteous Army' had operated in Joseon.

"Why would you ask that now?"

Because it wasn't as if he didn't know she was in contact with the Ae Sin in Manchuria. Not that that was news to him. "Just that Song Jiaoren had died in a similar manner." He remarked, "It just sort of came back."

"Everyone rides trains these days. Everyone has brownings, these days."

It was a nasty, unpleasant fact, but it was true.
 
June 1913
June 1913
Allen tucked his thumbs into his belt as the train slowed in, before finally coming to a stop. He'd been around trains all his life, and by education he was an engineer. The family business was rail, and at fifteen he could have handled any of that sort of engineering work. The Academy admission had been something of a foregone conclusion considering his father, as well as his maternal Grandfather, had gone. He adjusted his hand placement on the leather and tilted his head.

Pretty much everyone had pants tailored for belts. They could have worn their guns with flaps, and with an military unit to equip it was probable they'd go back to Sam Browne belts. He was pretty sure that no one here had a wheel gun.

He looked past the big locomotive, and frowned. He'd been a captain when the service had circulated him about looking at different artillery. Part of that was because he had a known interest in the subject, and there was the business of moving battery by rail. Artillery was getting heavier after all.

Case and point.

In the time it had taken Griswold to get back... well things had become tense enough that Allen was legitimately concerned about security. "What," He slowed reflexively for effect, "are those?"

"These?" Griswold smiled and turned, "Those, are Krupp 15cm Field Howitzer. I got the license fairly cheap too."

"How much is cheap?" He started, about afraid to ask.

"Well I expressed some concern about the recoil spring," He repeated the question. "This was the better option, and I'll give you the receipts." Griswold returned his attention to the loading process onto the trains. "So Yuan banned the KMT." He remarked haphazardly in between surveying.

"And got a loan of twenty five million pounds." Bill added jumping into the conversation. "I wouldn't be surprised if its for bribes to anyone still fence sitting." It was a distinct possibility. They needed to get back. As soon as the Qing had fallen, and Yuan Shikai had taken power as president they'd moved to restructure, and expand their holdings. It was true most of their interests were in Western Zhili and hence the name they had incorporated under, but they weren't the only holdings. Still besides the railway, they had built mines and factories and so forth. The farms and mills were important, but so too were the schools. "Are you gonna be able to make ammo for these big bastards?"

Griswold sounded offended when he responded. "I'll need time to adapt them to US style propellant, but yeah." That was no surprise though. They had had to do the same thing with the Mausers they had. Their small, if growing, arsenal produced US style propellant developed originally at Picatinny. That had been coupled with Haber's process of 1909 to turn out a comparatively large amount of nitrocellose powder over the last two years. Picatinny's powders had been developed from the Navy's loads after all. "I'll need space though, but you said you needed more nitrogen for fertilizer anyway so it shouldn't be that big of a deal." They needed to industrialize well faster. "So did Edenborn's tractors get here?"

"They did." Allen shrugged, "There was some rust on them, but they work. I think they scare people." The train whistle sounded, prompting Griswold to pick in his ear, "Edenborn is still trying to improve silk farming too." That had the promise of being potentially lucrative. Silk was a big market. "Means competing with the Turks, and the Japanese, though. I want to get back, and deal with this mess with Bai."

"What are we going to do about him?"

"If it comes to it we'll kill him." Allen responded, "Did you go see Lewis?"

"Oh and I am glad I did." The shorter man replied, "He gave me the plans for that. I've got a copy of the gun in 30 Caliber Government, but it shouldn't be hard to convert the design to Mauser. He made it shoot 303 after all." Griswold huffed, "He's still spitting mad at Crozier."

Allen shook his head, "I can't do anything about that. Isaac will get over it or he won't." General Wood had already said he had tried to mediate, and both General Crozier, and Newton had sworn the other was at fault. Friend or not, it did sound like Isaac had shown his ass in public at the end... but original fault was harder to pin down. "I get you'll be busy, but I want plenty of them. I get the impression we're going to be burning through machine guns pretty quickly." There was no way they were going to be able to rely on importing them if this did heat up. "At least make plans for the lines, we might not need them against Bai Lang, but it sounds like Canton and some of the other provinces down south are getting rowdy." They moved to the stairs of the carriage, and boarded. The interior was all dark mahogany, and velvet, but the real treat was, at least as far as Bill was concerned, the bar.

"You drinking?"

"He better be, I brought a bottle that smoky stuff he likes." Griswold grumbled producing the aforementioned scotch from his sea bag. They settled in and the train slowly rumbled to a start and began working itself westwards. "So," Griswold smirked, "We at war with the wolf then?" Allen knew he was being baited and didn't respond to the jibe, "Seriously though do we have a more coherent plan than just kill him?"

"Bai Lang has a pretty substantive number of men. Our biggest advantage seems to be he's spread out, and he doesn't have the resources to concentrate them. I also have my doubts about how much control he really has beyond the core of his supposed army." Still in theory that core could still be dangerous.

China had always been a huge country . A hundred years ago the Qing population had been three hundred thirty four million. During the first Sino-Japanese War the Qing had boasted of a million man army. This was a heavily peopled land, and one used to fielding large armies. What hadn't ever really been a thing were a coherency of sorts to national integration, but local bonds? Those were strong. "You believe Yan about the villages?"

He believed that it was believable. "We know Bai is pretty heavily tied into Honan," It was after all where his family was from. "He's roving through southern Zhili, eastern Shansi, and Shensi as well, and its one thing when they're just lynching unpopular folks, but most of the time its not that clean. If we run him off, it only pushes him back into Honan or maybe Anhwei, but decisive battle would require us to have some kind of advantage."

"Hence the artillery," Griswold replied. "Shelling the gorge isn't a problem, but that's had to have occurred to the Beiyang Army as well." Who'd be a lot better positioned to just surround the area. "Unless you want him to abandon the gorge?"

"I do. The plan beyond killing Bai is have a highly mobile force we can shift around. A few thousand volunteers will provide security, and assist in digging in fortifications around the yard. We want to start stringing barbed wire up around our yards. Ideally I'd like to catch him at one of the southern yards going towards Hankow, ideally catch them on the Yellow river. Where we can rely on villages who are by and large friendly with us, and hostile to bandits." Or perhaps more accurately where the conflux of natural terrain could along with help from landholder militias could shape it to their advantage. "I don't want Yan a position where he decides to change his mind and throw in with Bai Lang, and that means I don't want Bai anywhere near Shansi."

"That's going to be a hard thing. We can't realistically stop him from going west into Shensi," Bill pointed pulling the glasses out with audible clinks. "We don't have the numbers for it."

Allen felt himself smiling, "I know we don't but I've made it clear through Cao Kun that Bai is threatening the rail lines, and he's mentioned it to the transportation clique, and that means everyone knows. Duan has to do something. What I am really hoping for is that Duan will flush Bai out entirely," that they could avoid shooting at all, "but failing that, I want to be able to concentrate as many men as quickly as possible where they can do the most damage to Bai, and push him south."

"And then let the Beiyang go south and do it whenever they start actually shooting at one another."

"If it comes to that." He agreed as the bottles were added to the table. "If it doesn't it should still buy us enough time to build up the arsenal,"

"And building Lewis Guns." Griswold finished, "Well Summer is here, if they're going to do anything this year we are at about that point in the year where they make the decision to do something or not." If it did buy them the time that was more time to train men with modern weapons. If it didn't then they would fight with what they had. Bai Lang had been apart of the Beiyang Army before the fall of the Qing, and with a relatively modern education he was probably familiar enough with Duan Qirui or any of the other Beiyang commanders would position themselves.

He picked up the glass as they toasted. It was a pity Frank was so damn old. The old fellow wasn't in any shape to come all this way to China, but maybe he'd been able to give them some insight on how bandits thought. Still Griswold was right Summer was here, and that meant if anything was going to happen in the ancient land it was going to be soon. If anything Yuan sure seemed intent on pushing them as far as he could get them to go, and something was going to have to give.
 
On the cusp of the second revolution
Early June 1913
Griswold had not been thrilled at being pulled away from the arcane matters of gas port apertures and pressure differences between 7.92x57 and the higher pressure 30 Government. There was also the matter of Lewis's guns cooling in 30-06 and he was relatively sure that that was going to hold true for the German cartridge as well. To the point Allen had been subjected to the current rambling snarl, but also to a long winded chattering about the smallest steel mill and its production status.

A hundred and seventy six men had been selected on the basis of physical fitness and marksmanship, and they would be supporting a small cadre of men commanding a battery of three inch Krupp mountain guns. The main infantry force would be responsible for the machine guns, and Griswold was especially not happy about having to split his time between two separate machine gun detachments or going along with the second, which was something else he'd been clear on.

"The problem with Yuan, and Sun is that most of the damn government are just Qing officials who replaced Qing for Republic on the office door." Griswold muttered as men worked to load the trains. That was a problem for both the south and north. Corruption had been endemic in the Qing government, and that bit both sides of the current conflict. On the other hand provincial governments didn't generally have any more money in the treasury than the government in Peking. "And on top of that," He growled continuing, "The whole bunch of layabouts, is that everyone wants guns, but no one has money." That of course meant taking loans from folks in Europe, or America, or Japan. That meant in theory that land or investment rights would be invested by the loaning party or sometimes not. It was complicated, and just a mess besides.

Which of course had been the problem with the Qing, and its provincial officials. Everyone wanted goods, but had little in the way of liquid cash. "are you going somewhere with this, Sam?"

Griswold jerked his head towards the office overlooking the back end of the rail yard's multiple parallel tracks, "It'll be easier to show you." At first he assumed he meant the map, but all that was was of the provinces which had rebelled as part of the Xinhai revolt. "We're still getting shot at by muskets, granted most of those are," he paused for emphasis, "rifled muskets, percussion cap, but we're still using rolling blocks ourselves. Not in line infantry roles, mind but we're still using them to kill people, and muskets will still do that." They'd originally started manufacturing Remington Rolling Blocks for Qing military use. They were accurate, reliable, simple to use, fired modern cartridges, and they were cheap. When the need had come out to arm a bunch of people for mine security the rolling blocks had made sense. These days it made as much sense to give a corporal a telescopic sight equipped rolling block and put him somewhere to observe. That was as much a factor of the limited numbers of bolt actions they had at the outset as anything else. "and that means that the south is going to lose even without counting everything else stacked against them." He tossed a box of ammo over.

Allen opened the paper box of cartridges. "This is ours." He responded rolling the spitzer tip between his fingers noting and the shine of the brass.

"Yeah. Thats bullets we make. And in theory you can shoot it out of an 88, but it'll wear more than than the S pattern the north is shooting, but the south is still largely loading black powder, or if they are shooting smokeless its the M/88 loads or some shoddy derivative. Qualitatively the recruit plays a part in this. You think a student majoring in politics is going to stand a bayonet charge?"

It was a stupid question. "Yuan will be thrilled by this Sam, but we're fighting bandits, even accounting for Bai Lang throwing in with the KMT."

"Even Yan isn't convinced that that supposed thirty thousand men are all his, and plenty of them are riding around with spears and swords." It was 1913 damn it. It was outright madness to be still be fighting with spears, but it was happening. He had seen it damn it. This gave him all the wrong reminders of reading about the Boxer rebellion. "But he can't concentrate that everywhere, and Yuan Shikai had about six hundred thousand men, and he's voluntarily shedding the ones he can't rely on."

"Yeah but those same ones are just as likely to turn bandit if times are tough."

"Maybe, but getting rid of them means they can't walk off the job with their rifles."
--
Whatever Griswold, who had remained B Battery, might have been right about in the context of armies in the south it was true as well that Bai Lang's troops were spread out, and while large his bandits had a motely assortment of equipment. At Zaoyang that was especially the case. Bai Lang clearly had a lot of bandits underneath his standard, and that made it enough of a problem.

Huge clouds of black powder wafted from across the line. As far as musket lines and volley fire went this would have been high standard ... in 1880. It was however keeping them from advancing across the sodden field. At the same time the opposition facing them couldn't mount another cavalry charge either... especially not after the last half hour.

The Model 1895, more commonly called the potato digger, was a finicky pain in the ass. He'd disliked it in Philippines but it had still been a machine gun. It also was also almost half the weight of a Maxim, which was a plus.

Right now he had three of them anchoring his company's line. The battery of three inchers were further back, and dug in to fire indirect and had been firing since four thirty, and it was now a quarter after five. On the plus side they had at least been warned early enough to stop the train, dismount, and hastily assemble something of a defensive position.

That had been a bit after noon, and then the first horse mounted cavalry had charged towards the train. As it wasn't eighteen sixty four that had gone about as well as anyone should have known. On the other hand given the scarcity of machine guns, or even decent rifles and a predilection towards preying on peasants maybe they had so much experience on it working they couldn't fathom that it wouldn't.

"Sir," He glanced to the field telephone operator, and the instrument. It didn't seem likely that Bai Lang was here in person. He had however threatened to cut the rail line to Hanyang, and that couldn't be allowed. That and he'd made several attacks across the border from Henan.

That whoever was in charge was threatening to kill American Missionaries didn't really mean anything. Whichever bandit chieftain probably was used to ransoming people back going back years all over the countryside, and in the Qing abducting the English was a good way to attract jolly old England's attention... and not in the nice way.

Allen called a halt to the bombardment, but he didn't immediately take the phone. "Dawes, figure out where he's calling from, and then range it."

Dawes shook his head, he looked a little aggravated. "Even dug in I doubt we have the range on these three inchers." He glanced to the range finder, and their contraptions of gauges and dials, "I'll look, and check the map, but I would suspect they're ten miles out."

Any further technical discussion stopped when the telephone gestured again. "What does he want now?" Allen growled.

"From Hanyang." The operator replied shaking his head. "Government train, coming. Beiyang soldiers."

He hadn't believed his father's stories of pidgin English, and it was something that when he'd gotten to China... well schools in English were one of the first schools to be set up. The army was going to have to have fluent English... or settle on a dialect of Chinese that everyone could speak, and read, and write. They'd probably stick with arabic numerals regardless.

Dawes looked at him. "Figure out the ranges, but better than that figure out who's in charge of that fucking rabble." They had list of different banners used by the different 'Jia'. It was by no means exhaustive. Supposedly companies were supposed to be of a hundred men each, but that seemed to be a theoretical ambition rather than hard truth. What he did not want to happen was for the bandits to be able to move further west into Zhili. If they were going to back track though they'd run into government troops. If there were government troops... well it wasn't like Allen had any legal authority to offer surrender to the bandits, or an inclination to do so. Whatever the case it looked like they were about to be in a waiting game with the bandits probably hoping to slip away in the night.

Dawes came back with table map, "We're going to have to move, and I'd suggest we limber the guns and put them back on the train now." That took an hour, to the point it would have probably been nearly faster to move the guns by horseback the distance east wards. All the same they shuffled their line down and moved closer to the town. The bandits didn't shoot at them, and they didn't shoot at the bandits. That continued even as they dug in again which exhausted the last bits of good daylight, but it meant that they had long lengths of razor wire strung across the front..

Allen stepped back from the tent's entrance. He was glad he wasn't having to yell at the men. Not that the NCOs weren't, but then that was their job. Dawes had called the opposition rabble, and he wasn't wrong. The bandit 'Jia' unit looked like some kind of nomadic horde when it was encamped at least when he'd seen them before. He couldn't imagine their investment of the town was much different. On the other hand this was not a Qing army unit, even one like the Beiyang. The large canvas tents were a good example of that... then again there was a reason Yuan Shikai kept trying to downsize his army. The pidgin English was a potential vulnerability to communication, but then so were a host of other factors. "We're dug in for the night. The guns have been relocated and we've done what we can. Do we know who it is over there?"

The scribbled image of the banners had been copied on a field notebook, and compared to another book. There were more than a hundred banners that they'd recorded in the book. Probably most were defunct having represented earlier bandit formations before Bai Lang's reformation of his army, or might have represented temporary formations like brigades. It underscored that letting Bai Lang stay in the field was unacceptable. It was too dangerous to leave running loose near them. "Its not Bai obviously." Obviously the bastard would have probably been on the radio tweaking their nose with small talk, and bragging about all he was getting up to. "I think its one of his cousins, but our intelligence isn't the best."

He wondered what the Beiyang officer on the other side of them was doing right now. Allen shrugged and went back to looking out at the distant pennants in the limited light. Bai Lang might have had a professional education, but no one had taught these men about encamping. They looked like the proverbial mongol horde. He stepped back in. "I don't think they'll try anything tonight." He remarked.

"It'd be a shit show." Came the agreement, before "You want me to order half watch?"

"No leave it at quarter." They'd strung the wire up and that more than anything would deter any kind of advance under darkness. "The cannons?"

"I've shrapnel readied, if it comes to it." The red leg declared in earnest.

--
Commentary: So the first week of march will provisionally (and this is still very tentative) see updates for Out of the Dark, both In another world (DxD), and Wider World (DxD), and the standalone thread for SG1 (Jump 35) Jumpchain snippets in SFW. The regular jumpchain thread update that will take the Wednesday slot is not something I've decided on yet, but most likely it will be HPGENFANFIC.
 
June 1913
June 1913

They had decamped from Zaoyang and returned north and west via the railway. An afternoon, and a morning of fighting and then home again. They had taken the railroad down, and then back up again in a surreal whirlwind by steam engine. They hadn't gone five miles in any one direction distant from the railway at the end of it. This was modern warfare.

Located about thirty miles north west of town, that was Shijiazhuang, the smaller sleepier town was the site of a lot of work. From a relative population perspective at least as much work as the bigger town which was the company's headquarters. "We really need more rifles." They were far enough from town that the new muster grounds really only made a racket when they were testing the artillery. That couldn't be helped, and they were having to get new artillery as well. It wasn't just the firing ranges though. They could have built the new military schools in town, tacked them on to their existing college and called it a day. It made more sense in the long term to build out here on the lake front.

There was a lot going on. They had a couple of factories up here as well, but with a direct rail access it was no trouble at all to send things down to town. That applied to goods as well as to people. "We'll teach them on the old stuff first." It was what everyone had agreed on. It hadn't been hard to get plain Qing color uniforms. The first thing that they had changed were the boots of course, but other than those they were Qing uniforms in gray wool. They were uniforms, and that would help though, and that would help with running the school for enlisted, and future officers.

"We need more modern weapons."

He knew that. From Russia down to here, and it had been true in Korea, and who knew how much further now, lever guns were increasingly common among the bandits. Bai Lang had nothing approaching a standard service rifle, but his uncle at the very least had had a cadre of young men all with the same equipment down to the Mauser 96 pistols. That had been a nasty surprise of its own on top of the Russian Winchester repeaters they'd been carrying. "MY Remington is pretty handy for how we're fighting." He said after a minute.

"Yep." Simmons agreed finally speaking up. "I do wish it had more range to it, but still better than Winchester's 351."

That was certainly true. The German Eight mill outranged them both, but on a street corner or around town in general that didn't mean much. The 1907 did have other advantages, but it and the Model 8 were expensive compared to Mauser's 98. Of course the Model 8 was as expensive as Mauser C96. That cost was most certainly a major hurdle they were going to have to get around. Bai Lang robbing the railways, threatening towns, and all the rest that went along with being a bandit directly or indirectly impacted everything that had to work for an economy to grow. That didn't actually fix the underlying problem. Running Bai Lang off was fine if that was all they could do to stop him, he could accept that, but he wasn't the only bandit. "Did you read that copy of Inazo's book I loaned you?"

"I kind of picked through it." Simmons replied. "I uh," He toyed with the sleeve of campaign like flannel shirt, "It reminded me a bit of, the Army of Northern Virginia."

Allen could agree in principle the book waxed poetic on some Bobby Lee rhetoric. Not that Inazo's book hadn't been a huge blow out success, everybody back home loved the damn thing. His father loved the book. Well it had been popular back home, rather queer as it was in Japan it had been received less enthusiastically. Thinking about it, he knew by experience from his time in Joseon that most of the Japanese officers who had read it had been because it would have looked bad if they hadn't read it when all of their western counterparts, French, German, English, and Americans usually, had. At least that had been his impression. "I know Japan originally had a problem adopting drill," though he wasn't sure why, exactly, and it seemed liked the Qing had had a problem with it as well. It had been a Dutch noble out of Nassau who had developed modern regimental drill... but even that had been a few centuries by this point. On the other hand the new problem seemed to be not mastering the drill, but putting too much focus on it. The truth was most Qing troops hadn't been particularly good shots to begin with. He wondered if the Japs had had a similar problem with muskets and that had fed into their bayonet fetish. "We've got plenty of rolling blocks." He added.

"I guess its better than a stick for drill." Which was what a lot of people used, including military academies.

Truthfully manual of arms was less important now with metallic cartridges, but being able to clean and maintain a modern fire arm was something even more time intensive. The dormitory style housing would help too. "Duan can't seem to pin Bai Lang down. I don't think he's dispersing his troops either." They had changed topics back to their enemy.

Most likely he was right. Bai was a soldier by education. He was familiar with modern military tactics, and had studied in Japan, and that meant he probably knew about things like the Boshin war forty something years earlier. Duan was too, and might well be trying to 'rabbit hunt' Bai, but Bai wasn't having it.... and maybe it was because Bai wasn't dispersing his troops into the civilian populace... or if he was it was in friendly cities like those closer to the coast.

Bai Lang though had declared for Sun Yat-sen, and it was very likely he'd be able to dance around Duan's troops. It would really suck if Bai managed to give Duan the slip fully, and march on Shijiazhuang. That was their biggest fear. They couldn't run too far. They couldn't really chase after Bai, but they couldn't let him keep running amok either.

"He broke into that factory and stole a bunch of guns." It wasn't one of theirs. Thankfully. On the other hand Bai Lang might not have known that, or been sure it hadn't been theirs when he hit the factory south of them. There was another possibility of course, which Simmons proceeded to touch on. "Graham thinks its a bit coincidental," It was possible it wasn't a theft at all. That like Lea the guy south of them was buddied up with Sun and the 'theft' was just cover for action against Yuan without being incriminating.

He didn't like that notion. Whatever the case that meant Bai had a couple crates at minimum of Remington rifles. He really didn't like that.

--
He turned the sheet over as the whistle sounded announcing to the workers that it was time to break for lunch, and it signaled the trudging to the company mess hall where cooks waited to viddle the men. He idly considered having something sent up here, but no one else in the smoking room seemed particularly hungry.

They were hoping that they'd be able to manufacture an initial, large, batch of five thousand Mauser 98 rifles using the license they'd purchased in 1911. Just in case that ran into delays they had a number of DWM built rifles brought in with their new guns. It wasn't enough, but it would help. It would help a lot because before the new guns had gotten here they'd had less than four hundred of the ninety eight pattern, and something like half of those were cadre rifles. That was something that could be worked around in the short term, but in the longer term, the army was going to need a central ability to distribute arms. Something that would preferably occur before the country tore itself into a Chinese answer to the Boshin war. Or worse.

"Did you get that maxim we took working again?"

"That chamber was filthy." The other engineer shook his head, "I got it working," Well that one more machine gun they wouldn't otherwise have. "I can guess they were shooting black powder out of it." Griswold shook his head in aggravation.

"How's that other thing going?"

"Other thing?" Allen questioned.

"So," Simmons, paused and held up his empty glass, and Bill waved at him in an I see you gesture from the other end of the room, "We have the rolling blocks. They're in 7mm. I talked to Remington, and Edenborn talked to them, and we've got an order of two hundred 1899 Remington Lees coming. Now I've confirmed from the telegraph station that they are on the boat."

Allen nodded. The last few weeks had been a brainstorm session, crash, and general chaotic whirlwind of telegrams and letters, and everything other means short of smoke signals to consider what could be done. Obviously this particular idea had been something from probably a little earlier.

He remembered the excitement he had felt when Edenborn's self propelled tractors had arrived from the states. Allen frowned those were still important. The new farms were significantly improved in productivity, utilizing the latest techniques that Edenborn had pioneered, and that meant that while some of them produced things like tobacco most were food farms. The Japanese didn't like buying wheat, especially compared to rice, but wet rice agriculture was harder up here. Potatoes were something else, but the big thing was cattle, and that had a good market here, as well as for exporting to Japan. Milk was popular to.... which was weird given how many of the Japanese Allen knew were lactose intolerant. "I've got a meeting with Ando."

"What's he want?" Simmons grunted looking up from his own papers.

Allen shook his head, "Negotiations for the export of food. I'll be going to Tietsin." He added, with any luck he'd be able to take possession of the new rifles at the same time, "I might be gone a week," Longer if his father decided to say something, but that might work out as well.

"With Bai making a ruckus over missionaries the Mission is going to be wanting your time as well,"

The French mission wouldn't, but Britain, and Germany might. The US was an obvious one, but the British were next in line. The English had the most influence in the country, but there was also the fact that the British felt their interests in China were also being threatened by the Tsar. "There is a lot going on, Li is in Hanyang now with his division, and I suspect to arrest members of Sun's Party," They couldn't prove Yuan had ordered Song's death, but he did clearly benefit the most from it... and sending the new 'Vice president', who was also a 'Li', south seemed like Yuan was preparing to make good on the Jinbudang claiming the KMT was trying to start another revolt. "I think he wants to keep Hanyang under control, and the eighth is a good way to do that."

"What are you getting at, Al?" Before speaking up Bill had been moving towards the bar to help himself to a bottle of bourbon. "If anything the eighth being down there is bad for us. Li being down that way cuts Bai from running to the KMT in the three cities." The Wuchang uprising that had happened in October of 1911 had happened down that way, and that mess had sparked the whole Xinhai mess.

Leaving aside that Allen wasn't entirely sure Bai would have even run that way, that was towards Hanyang, that was true. On the other hand it was entirely possible Bai might have felt cocky enough to try and break open the arsenal because that had been done during the Xinhai revolt less than a year earlier. "Because nothing meaningfully has changed in the south. The 'Revolutionary Armies' aren't really different than they were in 1911,"

"And they lost." Bill nodded, "Yeah, the Beiyang should sweep them from the field in any direct confrontation. Beiyang might not have great artillery, but they have some modern guns at least." and having some was better than nothing, and it wasn't like the loans Yuan Shikai had been getting hadn't been going towards new weapons. New and shiny.

There was a clink of a glass, "Remember," The artillery officer looked around at the others, "Or not," He amended, "That most of Sun's provinces are the same ones that sat the Boxer rebellion out, or outright sided with the west against the Boxers, and the Qing court." Siding might have been a bit strong, and frankly with as much provincialism as there was Allen wasn't entirely convinced that they weren't just using the opportunity to tell Peking, and the north, bluntly to fuck off. "And for that matter Bill, I think most of the Beiyang is at least satisfactory at laying cannons. Say what you will."

If he were being honest the fall of the Qing... Yuan Shikai managing to negotiate the abdication and all of that had not been something he'd expected... and he didn't know how this would play out, but the point was. "No one likes uncertainty. I'm going to listen to Ando get hot under the collar, but I expect we'll make a decent profit," Most of the balance would be paid in the Yen. Ando was likely going to quibble about how much contract stipulations called for pounds.

It was how these things worked.

--
Commentary: I have no idea why it thinks it needs to be indented like this. So the next part marks the start of July, and the following segments take place throughout July 1913 culminating in the initial flare of hostilities before autumn of 1913 with the second revolution mostly spluttering out.​
 
The Cusp of the Second Revolution July
The Cusp of the Second Revolution
July
It wasn't like Bai Lang had ever really stopped being a bandit after he had deserted the Beiyang 7th division. He just applied some of his catchier political screeds to justify the robbing, and oppose Yuan Shikai during the Xinhai revolt. Except that by the end of that the Qing fell through because of the Beiyang Army leadership negotiating an end to the empire rather than the Revolutionary Armies doing anything. That was the military reality of the situation, and it wasn't like Bai Lang was just going to show back up and rejoin the Army after the Republic had been declared so he had kept his head down for a couple of months and then gone back to banditry.

Allen knew for certain that Bai Lang wasn't anywhere near unique in that. Plenty of people who had deserted hadn't trusted Yuan enough to come back to the fold. Really, what made Bai Lang unique among all of the other army deserters the Qing had hemorrhaged was his education. Bai Lang had been educated in Japan, he had been a member of the Beiyang Army, and on top of that he'd been a staff officer. That might have seemed a strange distinction to make, but it probably was the most important one of the three. Bai Lang knew how to organize men, and that clearly shown by the confirmation of Yan's shared information about Bai's spies, and merchants.

When he'd been in Joseon Allen had received a letter from Lewis which more or less reaffirmed his own understanding of the Spanish American war that had concluded really before they had graduated his class early. The United States had had demonstrably inferior equipment to the Spanish. They had had inferior equipment, but the United States had had the initiative, and will to apply better tactics. A stronger strategic position. More to the point Lewis's recent tour of Europe had suggested to him that they were a decade behind Germany, France, and England when it came to cannons. Then of course Japan and Russia had gone at it a few months later. Japan had handily trounced the Tsar, and Allen had found himself shipped off to the Philippines. Then he'd finished out doing staff work of his own, mostly looking at trains, bridges, and the telegraph. The academic notion of using those to coordinate and move new bigger cannons had already existed.

General Wood's letter was currently on the desk, and Allen had been halfway through a reply to it. It covered a variety of news, and not the least of which in his capacity as Army Chief of Staff. The United States had participated in the Boxer Rebellion, but more importantly had been the Philippines. That remained true to the President, who had of course been Secretary of War. That wasn't to say Taft hadn't considered China unimportant, but Allen felt that his foreign office certainly thought it was a secondary concern.

"Was it important?"

"I don't think Wilson likes bankers." He replied, and then shrugged, "But Wood is worried if Bai Lang keeps attacking Missionaries what Wilson might do." In no small part because Wilson seemed intent to go his own way regardless of the English or French positions in China. A portion of the 15th Infantry division remained stationed in China, along with the usual contingent of marines, though the bulk of the division were in the Philippines. "Did you say something to Scott?"

Bill side eyed him, "Not me. I doubt Cole would have, or Dawes. Why?"

"No reason in particular," Allen replied. It might have been nothing after all the man had a tendency to spindle on. He might have been stewing on nothing at all. Charles Scott was an american presbyterian minister in Shangtung. He was certainly not the worst of his breed in any event. "It might be nothing, what else is going on?" It was mid July now, and the first official recognition of trouble in the south had arrived a few days earlier. By that point Yuan had probably been dealing with problems behind the scenes for a while and everything had just reached a boiling point.

"It sounds like the KMT have more supporters in the central coastal cities than we thought." Bill replied, "It sounds like," He waved his hand in a gesture, 'and this is with a grain of salt' indicationk, "and this is just what we've heard, but that Bai Wenwei has declared independence. Apparently he didn't take the hint when Yuan fired him last month. More to the point it sounds like Bai Lang has marched into Anwhei and is distributing pro KMT leaflets." This was probably going to lead to shooting and quickly. Well, over there, but probably not here in Zhili.

The Xinhai rebellion had lead to the end of the Qing. It had also resulted in greater provincial autonomy. Apparently by simply firing Wenwei instead of arresting him Yuan had made a mistake. It seemed like that anyway. If he'd been in San Francisco or Tokyo it would have been interesting to speculate on why he'd done it rather than something else. He wasn't somewhere else though he was here. A few hundred miles was vastly different than a couple thousand. Yuan's recent loan, and the letter with notes on Wilson's distaste for American involvement in the Six Power Consortium both came to mind as other factors at play. On the other hand, Yuan had banned the KMT months ago. "Bai Lang is actually in Anhwei?"

"We don't know, but if something is going to happen its going to be soon from the sound of it."

Even if Anhwei had declared for the KMT that didn't necessarily mean anything, "Zhili has no investment in Bai Lang's cause," that was just demographics really. Between them, and Cao Kun, and... "But Feng has been butting heads with Duan over things." Which didn't really mean anything, both of them were arguing in the eastern bits of the province over who should be doing what. "I don't think Yuan considers it all that important though he's still saying he's going to clear the muster rolls. That or, he's going,"

"He's going to what?"

It wasn't identical but at the turn of the century France had attempted to purge its Army of 'insufficiently republican' officers. Why they had thought that was important after getting their asses trounced so recently by Prussia Allen had had no idea, but it seemed likely that given the performance of Revolutionary troops during the revolt they weren't reliable. "I think he's shedding troops to prevent desertions. If he can disarm them, and then they go south to fight for Sun, then Sun has to provide them guns. If they desert they walk off with their rifles, which is money Yuan would have to spend to replace those rifles."

"Are we riding for Anhwei then?"

"No." Ten years ago his answer would have been the opposite. The ability to potentially charge into that fray would have been near irresistible. How many times had he'd charged off with the scouts when he shouldn't have in the Philipines even... "But put the men on alert anyway." They didn't need to march on Anhwei... "I'm going to take a detachment into Southern Zhili though," A plan was already shaping up, and he'd need part of the labor corp. When they'd first started training everyone had been started with the fundamental basics. Two months of basics of fitness, ability to follow commands, a couple days with a rifle. It hadn't been much different from how the National Army back home did things. After that though they'd divided the been and split into separate groups. A thousand men here for construction, two thousand more received some additional training, and fifteen hundred who had the best prospects formed two individual core battalions. They were being called battalions but officers weren't something they had a program to train for. Unlike the National Army back home prospective officers and enlisted men were being trained as one batch. The entire first generation of officers were going to be mustang promotions. That was fine if they got plenty of peace time after this spat. If this turned into a wider more drawn out mess then there might be trouble. "Tell Powell I want him to grab some of the smaller guns." Bill nodded, "I need him to come with me, and then you Griswold, and Dawes need to be prepared to move if necessary with those bigger ones Griswold insisted on buying." He said, but he'd known that Dawes had wanted Krupp guns, and was delighted that Griswold had purchased Krupp's latest model in place of the 1903, or more NA96 or 96 nA or however Krupp had them designated. Still moving those was gonna take a lot of horses.

"Al, if Bai Lang's busy shouldn't we be trying to steal a march into the gorge? If he's busy shouldn't we try and show up with a bunch of guys, and just bring ruin his day?" The Texan drawled.

That would have been the conventional thinking, and it might have had merit. "We'll do that, but first I want to stretch out telegraph, and telephone lines in the field without anyone shooting at us first." Just in case they had to do it while the other guys were shooting at them later, "But more to the point I want a jump off point on our side of the border in case we have to go into Honan. If it comes to that I want you ready to come in as heavily as possible after we're over."

Sow Gorge was near Baofeng. They could get there, but it was like two hundred and fifty miles to their south. That was a ways for anybody who wasn't the mongols way back in feudal times. Rail would take them part of the way, but there were limits. They'd need an abundance of draft animals, mules, horses and so forth, as well as supplies for those animals in addition to the rest of any campaign supplies.

Allen stood up and began to pace. "I've got to go to Tietsin, and if not for that yeah." Now would have been a pretty good time to make a move. From all that was passing around it sounded like Bai Lang was raising cain in Anwhei.

--
Commentary: A minor revision to my planned schedule is I will probably update DxD isekai (again) this week we'll just go straight to the Storm. Wider World will probably still be updated this month, probably. Out of the Dark's update may end up pushed back to next weekend.

Alright on to the technical aspects:

This is set in 1913 it is immediately before world war 1 and really this is the heyday of international picking and buying and being able to source arms from basically any country that was making them. That included the licenses to make them at home. Some details have been fudged, but really this is why there is such a this and that arsenal. Its also why you saw a bunch of really strange guns that used a bunch of features from different manufacturers.

This sort of plays into the warlord era (1916+), but in a different way. Obviously in a year world war 1 will be on, and the supply of arms internationally draws up, and even from the United States reduces because of the influx of Entente contracts of Britain and France. [Then of course post war there is for a little while that whole arms embargo].

Other
Obligatory teaser for Kitsune Waifus (HSoD Challenge fic)

"You know, Junichi's house having that fox shrine makes more sense now."

Other teacher: "But most farms have Shrines to Inari."

cue AKAGI
 
The Second Revolution Begins 4th July 1913
The Second Revolution Begins
4th July 1913
Tietsin was a nice enough place. It was fine to visit in any event. Allen didn't really care for it but only in the sort of way of someone who had lived a couple of years somewhere who had decided to move on. It was still nice to visit though. It was lot easier to do business here in the concessions, even though Peking had all the same high society fixtures like hotels and fancy restaurants. The problem he found with Tietsin was the concession made him uneasy, not enough to stop him from having breakfast in the Belgian quarter.

The Belgians may have been a second rate power in Europe, but they had plenty of economic influence here, especially here as in in the city. That, and Allen found the electric tram criss crossing the city fascinating. Also, Bert had ambushed him in the lobby of the hotel wanting to talk about 'this and that', which had ended up being coal of all things. If Bert knew then chances were Japan and the Russians already knew as well. It wasn't that they hadn't already been digging coal, but they'd been planning the expansion since the Qing. He wanted to get big in steel, and he needed a lot of electric power for that.

The problem was that that was going to be unsafe if he had to contend with Bai running amok. To that extent he didn't buy into the notion that Bai Lang was being supported by the Russians. Especially not because that allegation was coming from the Japanese. It wasn't impossible of course, the Japanese and the Russians didn't get along though, and that meant both sides had plenty of reasons to get downright slanderous about the other. On the other hand, it wasn't impossible, because the Tsar had plenty of reason to weaken Yuan Shikai. However, if he were being honest the truth was that Bai Lang probably was just a bandit with politics. Well, politics, and a grudge.

He moved up the flight of stairs to the open air lounge on the roof. "You've heard the news then?" He asked the Brit sitting at the table.

"I have," He replied turning slightly and looking him up and down, "Though I doubt that is all, I mean you are, how do you Americans, say loaded for bear. I'm unsurprised the constables aren't happy with your man outside."

Like the Indian with the big knife in the corner wasn't here to keep Percy out of trouble. "Don't be ridiculous, Perce. I always dress like this." He wasn't going to mention that Shang did have two broke down Model 8s in his bag, besides the rather conspicuous 96 he was carrying. "This is nothing special for me."

"Yes," The brit ran his fingers around the rim of the tea cup, but eyes were on the ivory grips of the colt brownings. Percy was probably a year or two younger than Allen, though his waxed mustache and his British suit cut made him look like he was a younger man trying to come off as older. "That's true I suppose. No, moving on to your question. Yes, I have heard the news. Your father seems to have come to the same conclusion."

"That Sun has no operational control of the southern provinces." He stated, just to be sure on the same page on all of this.

"Correct." Percy chimed in response. "I've spoken with our people in Hong Kong, and elsewhere. Simply put there is no indication of coordination going on. They are using the telegraphs, but its sporadic at best. For heaven's sake, it really is a mess, and looks to be about to get quite a bit worse. What are you going to do about?" He demanded suddenly.

"Its unfortunate Sun doesn't have control in the sense that we could reasonably expect him to want to avoid giving the western powers," and he was including Japan, and Russia in that, "the easy option to come in against them."

"Yes, I'd say the good doctor would be against the molestations of missionaries. No one wants a repeat of that Boxer business. I was hoping that he might be able to reign in China's supposed Robin Hood. What will you do about him?"

"Bai Lang?"

"You purchased rather severe artillery from the Germans. Very heavy artillery." The brit emphasized a little unnecessarily in Allen's opinion. "You know where he is do you?"

"I've known for a while." He admitted.

"You must be holding back for a reason then, what is it? I know he has a veritable mongol horde of bandits, but still, I can't imagine that's the only reason."

"Rain, mostly." He replied. "We want to be able to put the cannons in place, and that means waiting till later in the summer. September." Percival Graves frowned, but Allen's look stopped him, "When we got tangled up with Bai's uncle about a month ago, our three inch guns couldn't elevate enough to reach where they were." He doubted Percy knew what he was talking about, but he didn't clearly show it either. "Bai Lang is situated in favorable ground to defend himself from conventional attack. Head on doesn't work. We want to flush him out of there, and we need to wait for that."

"Ah, well I defer to your superior military acumen then." Percy took a long pull from his tea cup, "If I were to ask, when he went after Xian, was that one of yours?"

"No that wasn't one of ours." He replied, but it wasn't that they hadn't been looking to get in a foot in the door of the city.

"Hard to keep you track of you adventurers." He probably almost come close to calling him a colonial. "Not yours though?" He asked again.

"No," He replied. "They were making Remington rifles though. Its a bit of a problem." The Brit grimaced and agreed. The biggest deal was that the central government had escalated again. The Beiyang 6th​ division had left its garrison by train and was rolling towards one of the southern coastal provinces. Probably Fukien, since there were already Beiyang troops in Shanghai, which was probably one of the other places Percy was getting fed information from.

"You understand of course there is a good chance Japan is selling rifles to both sides right?

"And to Mexico, yeah." He shrugged, "The Arisaka has a good action." It was a well designed rifle, with a robust action as the Russians had found out to their detriment. "Of course most of what I've seen the south use are the older Murata, and it makes plenty of sense to sell the old stuff in exchange for," well silver, or land or whatever they were getting in trade.

"Something to consider John Allen." Percival stopped him, "The Japanese want a seat at the table, in all honesty they want more than just a seat. They want more influence. I suspect they've prodded Yuan Shikai into going early not to crush the rebellion early, but to make him waste money. Britain, and the international consortium just concluded one particularly large loan. On top of that there is the American president's position." about all the lending going on, and his apparent dislike for bankers. "I am certain the Japanese see it as an opportunity."

"And Japanese appetite for expansion fuels Vickers doesn't it mister Graves?"

"Of course," He agreed, not bothering to deny it. "Its why the company was also curious about your man's acquisition of such heavy guns. To the point Krupp even sold you the license. Can you do that? Can you produce those guns? Are you going to sell them to Yuan?"

"That's a lot of questions Percy. The short answer, is that we can produce those guns down the road. We don't have any lines set up for them right now. The steel won't be a problem." Not only were there limits to the space on the line, well, "We're still working on the right loads for them for our powder, so we're not going to sell them to Yuan any time soon." The ... 96 on the other hand, well that might be a different story, but even that might take another two or three years.

"I suppose that's something of a reassurance. They're very large guns you know."

Yeah, he knew, and he was probably thinking about the Daogyu forts or something like them. It seemed interesting Percy believed the purchase had been planned rather than something someone had done on their own initiative. "The thing you should understand Perce, is the fact that that steel can be used for other things. There is no reason to rush those guns. After all I wanted those pom poms didn't I?"

"Yes, yes, and I have them, waiting your signature on the receipt." He shook his head in the direction of the attache case, "Again though, that's loaded for bear isn't it? Do you really think Bai Lang is that dangerous?"

"He has fifty thousand men, Percy." He said using the higher of the two numbers he had been told for emphasis. "I'm hardly going to play fair against those numbers."

"I take your point." The englishman had turned a little pale, so they were probably finally getting on to whatever the real issue was, "I guess that makes passing this along a bigger favor to ask. Shensi has become dangerous for foreigners with Bai Lang running around. I am sure the Americans are going to ask already, officially ask, I assume some one or more than one person has already mentioned rescuing foreign nationals in the interior. Can you act in Hupei, and Honan?"

"The western portions of Honan." He replied honestly. "Even if the railway cuts east, there are other limits. The further east you were to move the more support that Bai is going to have," Or at least that was their understanding from how influence was coming in from the coast, but especially it looked like that in Honan, "and that makes getting into Hupei trouble."

"But you can go,"

"The railway junction in Zhengzhou is fairly safe," Especially right now, "and that means Hanyang at least." He stopped talking, "We can get a map if there is an issue Percy. You want to tell me what this is about? Some missionaries I assume?" That might explain, but Percy was being awfully evasive for just some missionaries, but if it was something else he probably would have been asking about going down to Hankow, and he hadn't even budged when he'd mentioned Hanyang just now. This was trouble.

"Its a sensitive topic John Allen. These are, people are tense right now."
--
Commentary: Of course by the time those lines would get spun up World War 1 is on, and Yuan Shikai is dead, and the country is coming apart at the seams so you actually need them for home production, but that's after the CYOA's start date.

Somewhere in an alternate timeline everyone in world war 2 has to get together and agree on a single medium tank design in order to fight invaders from another world. Despite much French bitching, the Nazis and Russians grudgingly agree the American Sherman is the one they can agree on. deGaulle then proceeds to insist that the Shermans are actually French.

So as I've mentioned this mixes a lot of genres, including the existence of magic / supernatural powers, and there are a couple of instances of this in the following, particularly the next segment. Its not especially explicit in the next segment but yeah its there.

This is alternate history but it is also a relatively low magic pulp / urban fantasy whatever you want to call it.
 
Last edited:
4 July 1913 Tietsin (2)
4 July 1913 Tietsin (2)
He had kind of expected this. Eugene had gotten this sort of treatment more than him in Joseon, but he'd done this song and dance before. The feeling in his stomach all morning hadn't done anything but put him on edge besides. The gunto, or new model sword, was clearing its scabbard. Allen heard the foot falls increase and the swing coming.

Too slow, and too far out. The smaller man came off balance as his swing failed to connect with anything in the confines of the alleyway, and Allen had already finished turning to face him. There was another man at the mouth of the path, and possibly someone waiting on the end too, but it didn't matter. He grabbed the would be swordsman's wrist, and collar and slammed him into the brick facing of the building to his left before driving his boot into the man's knee.

The noise of the introduction to the wall caused the man back the way he had come to spin in alarm, but it was too late. Allen stepped well into the man's swing grabbed his forearm, and squeezed until his wrist began to pop forcing him to drop the military sword.

Two. Not a good sign. He forced the thunder in his veins back under control and expanded his awareness of his surroundings. Tietsin might not have been Shanghai, but this sort of thing wasn't completely unheard of. Shanghai, and Hong Kong, Macau and Canton. Most of the other southern treaty ports were gangster paradises and a place where factions within factions of the great powers got into fights, and brawls... and this was probably that.

"Sir!" Shang had been left to baby sit Bert at the telegraph office, which was the reason he hadn't been in tow.

There was a pop and cloud of dirt, well probably plaster, exploding into the street followed by several more as one Japs fumbled a Nambu as Shang drew his Mauser from across his side shoving Bert down and out of the way. That only fueled the confusion on the street and was made worse still when Shang's nine mill opened. The boom echoing in the streets. There was a clang as the first round struck the steel pole body of one of the electric street lights, and second hit the brick building behind it.

He ordinarily thought of the Republican Army troops in Tietsin as mostly ceremonial. They were there to stand there and look big and impressive with their big chopping sabers and not much else. It really would have been nice to have been proven wrong but the big guy on the street corner wasn't doing anything. He was probably more confused than anyone else.

Allen had to resist telling, shouting an order at, Shang not to shoot the Jap. Not the least of which was the two were currently glaring at each other but they had stopped shooting. The Jap's back was to Allen. Any instinct to shoot the man in the back though was quashed by having to avoid another sword swing. There was another guy behind him with his sword already drawn. He affected a flat expression, "You're a little young to be trying to dance with me with live steel." He hissed. It worked in pissing him off at any rate, and that insured the swing was too far left to hit him. Allen pushed his hand towards the frozen Republican sword guard, and took the dadao from him without any resistance.

It was heavier than he would have liked. It would have been entirely too easy to take someone's arm off if he wasn't careful. Not that the Jap swords were light for their length, but there was a vulnerability there as well. The attack came and he riposted before bringing the borrowed dao, and his full weight in to the lower edge of the sword's side. Metal chipped and the gunto's blade bent something like fifteen degrees even as Allen recovered to drive the dao's ring pommel up into the man's midsection driving the wind out of the man in his early twenties.

Number four then given Shang was still in a Mexican stand off with the Nambu guy, who might not have even been involved in this mess... given his conspicuous lack of trying to go for a sword or the like. Allen shuffled a length closer using his height to close distance with two wide shuffle steps.

Four's nostrils flared and his eyes narrowed into slits even before the shout came. Too late, and too much warning. Allen was already inside of his swing and the spine of his appropriated weapon battered the gunto out of the way leaving the man's face open for an elbow to the man's nose that sent him spinning into the pathway.

He checked his surroundings moved so that if Shang did take a shot he wouldn't be in the cone, and pulled one of the ivory handled pistols he was carrying and took three long steps coming into the Nambu man's peripheral. "Lower your weapon." He ordered in Japanese raising the big bore of the 45 to eye level with the man's head, which was really only shoulder height for Allen. "Now." He snapped.

--
"What in the hell were you thinking!" The old man roared. Allen had to resist the witty retort that growing up this would have been written off as 'boys would be boys'. His father was dressed in a smoking jacket and looked more like he was going to the opera than he was a federal army officer. Then again that was a colt under the old man's jacket too. There were times that Allen suspected that uncle sam probably had the older Forrest here for less overt military reasons. He had no proof for that, but there was only so much socializing even foreign posting could explain. "Its a miracle you didn't kill anybody. Fighting in the god damned street. I'm going to hear no end of this from Japan's legation."

"No you're not." He retorted

"Excuse me?" The elder Forrest was Allen's height maybe a hair shorter but it would have been impossible to tell for sure.

"The legation is going to keep its mouth shut. They jumped me four on one, five on two if they want to count Shang," Which they wouldn't because he was Chinese, "And there are plenty of witnesses who will say that." The street hadn't been crowded by there were plenty of Europeans to say what had happened.

"Yeah, and how many of them did you mind whammy," His father growled softly, "You think that's enough, that they'll just let it go."

"They won't make a fuss about it." Not publicly, not out where everyone could see how they'd failed, "All four of 'em walked off and to their part of town, and enough people saw that. They can't claim shit." He spat.

"Watch your mouth." His father retorted, "Who was behind it? Yamagata?"

He brooked at the accusation. "Well seeing as you haven't come to the house, no. He's the one who designed the garden, after all. If Hirobumi wasn't a few years dead I might have thought him,"

"But it could be something from back them." His father pointed out.

"Yeah."

"Yes sir," The older army officer corrected absent mindedly by reflex. "Hirobumi," He muttered running his tongue over his teeth as he turned the name over. "I know you ain't in business in the hermit kingdom." But there were people who were. "Are you sure its not Yamagata, he has the pull for this."

The Taisho crisis had proven that last year. Not that... in truth Allen had found anything wrong with it... though that wasn't nothing against Sainoji personally it was just how the game was played over there. There was a complex hierarchy of influence at play. Sainoji though was one of the people who had been pro US, and his influence being curbed, relatively speaking, by Yamagata hadn't made Washington happy. He doubted it had made the brits happy either. "Have there been any other changes? New arrivals to the legation?"

His expression wrinkled. "I'll get you a list. Now since you're here, there is the matter of the missionaries in the interior of the country. I've a list of them as well." The sound of it was that he was going to have a lot of reading to through besides all of the material that had been shipped over from the states.

--
Allen looked at the train, and then to the company of men. His father's list of personnel incoming to the Japanese legation had proven ultimately unnecessarily. Yamagata's letter, post marked almost a month earlier in June had arrived with the bad news that Gonsuke Hayashi would be the next minister plenipotentiary to China.

That wasn't a smoking gun. Oh Hayashi was now the chief suspect of who might have been responsible for the attack, but he wasn't the only possibility. "The last of the rifles are loaded." Shang reported not looking at him, his eyes scanning the surroundings much as Allen had been doing a moment earlier.

The examples of Vickers guns were loaded already. They were a contingency. Just in case Bai Lang decided he was feeling spry enough to try the city. Not that cannister wouldn't probably have worked better from a three inch but, well... the thinking was that they'd be able to combine the use of the machine gun with small artillery after all that was sort of what the Vickers was. How much use they would actually get out of the guns? Who could say, but Vickers was also probably banking on the fact that if they showed them, or better still actually used them against the bandits the national government would want to buy some. Better still would be if lots of powerful people wanted to buy them. Allen had seen the guns in action and while he expected if they were used they'd be useful, he didn't readily expect them to make the same kind of impression as Krupp's howitzers.

Not that he'd told Percy that. He doubted the other man would understand the Vickers were a lot more mobile, but simply couldn't compare to the sheer firepower of chunking nearly a hundred pounds of high explosive at some poor bastard. After all to Percy they were just really big guns.

"Then we should get ready to pull out." Tietsin was not that far... at least as overland distances went... unfortunately the railway wasn't a straight line. By itself that wasn't a problem, but the start of the 'Second Revolution' according to the south... well Sun had nominally been minister of railways up until his dismissal. Not that Bai Lang would really have needed any of Sun's contacts in all likelihood. No if Bai was going to make a move it was doubtful the south really had any involvement. On the other hand there was no telling where Bai was and whether he had any knowledge of this arms shipment.

That was the thing about bandits they weren't all knowing. It was possible he knew. It was also possible that he assumed it was simple more machine tooling or imported machinery from the west. It was also doubtful that Bai could attack a train that was coming south. It didn't seem likely he was going to be that risky... but there was the warning that Bai Lang, and presumably the KMT as well, had their own spies. There was no point in taking chances.

At the same time there was also no reason to advertise. Bolting a machine gun to the floor of a cabin, even temporarily, would have looked queer on even the best of days.

Shang took over distributing the orders, and the last men aboard were the handful of sergeants with browning automatic shotguns. He bent down to look out the window as they pulled away from the station. Hayashi was coming back from Europe, and the timing was terrible. They needed to run Bai Lang off... or put him down.

--
Commentary:

Urban Fantasy: So one of the key inspiring parts of this story besides the CYOA is the Shadow, and to a lesser extent the Phantom which were pulp serials, in addition to Burrough's contributions (Barsoom, Tarzan). Its that era. I won't say Sharpe and Taipan didn't have any influence, but I'd probably GURPS as a trope setting had more than those.

Really as I write this I vacillate between how much magic I want involved in, which is part of the reason I did the explicit in another world crossover with Destroyermen during world war 2 because its more fantastical and already had dimensional translocation, so like our world with exceptions is less of a problem. Thats in the 40s though. Closer to here though there slated to be some general call backs to things like the boxer rebellion.

Predominantly though if one wanted to compare this to the Phantom, or Barsoom its about the logistical side of things, the kingdom or empire that grows. John Carter revitalizes Mars, or Bangala having more of an apparatus to support all of whats going on. Obviously by the 'present', that is the White Wolf Rebellion the Qing have already fallen and things are changing in China where the plan to come in and build factories and railways and what not is complicated by the growing not just north south divide in the country, but also increasing regional provincialism. Or provincialism now with modern weapons, coupled with the increasingly weakened central government.

So monday the plan is to post the stargate Jumpchain thread, that's somewhat tentative still, but that's my current plan.
 
July 1913
July 1913

It was actually verging on hot outside, but really it was mostly just warm. While it was humid it wasn't quite back home's murderous humidity today. Allen liked this weather in July. "What is that?" He asked referring to the long black leather luggage. He expected it was a peace offering after the artillery.

"Well, don't tell Remington mind you." Griswold declared with practiced showmanship, "But I took the magazine type of the Remington Lee and rather effectively," If he did say so himself, "integrated into the Model 8. I admittedly had thought about the idea back with the model 1900," And probably already had something drafted with the European version of the design. "but I never got around to it with all the Xinhai fighting going on."

Taking the rifle Allen saw what he meant. The 1899 Remington-Lee was a modernization of an even earlier rifle. That one from about a decade before had introduced a detachable magazine. Of course the 1899 would itself be parent to the contemporary Lee-Enfield the Brits had adopted. He ran a hand over the cleanly milled rounded receiver. Griswold had not gone whole hog, and engraved the gun, or any of that, but instead gone for a finishing that would hold up in the field. It was still a pretty rifle, but functional.

Unlike the 1899, such as those they had bought in Spanish Mauser, the Model 1900 and its relatives, including this variation of the Model 8, had a stripper clip guide milled into the receiver. All of this had to come out of the Arsenal they had built in town. In fact the walnut stock was probably from their own stand of trees. "Is this all home built?" He asked.

"Yes sir." Griswold replied with a humming. "Metal is ours, woods is ours, ammos ours. All of it." His expression turned sour. "What's a matter?"

He pushed up on the magazine release button within the trigger guard, "Nothing." Allen replied as he ejected the magazine. Other than they didn't actually have a license from Remington to produce the Model 8. It was an oversight... well not really they had never expected to sell something like the model 8 commercially certainly not enough to warrant paying Remington for the rights. "Take the schematics for this and send it to John."

"Remington ain't gonna do anything with it." He nearly whined.

"That might be," He conceded, but that wasn't the point. "But I want the paper work actually done, make sure you send the papers to Edenborn and his lawyers as well."

Griswold scoffed, "Alright, alright," He acquiesced. "Remington was happy enough that we were even interested in the Lees." He muttered. "Probably wondered why we didn't just buy Enfields." He grumbled, and that was a valid curiosity, but Britain hadn't wanted to license production of the Lees to Canada... for who knew why.

"Can you make an Enfield style ten round magazine?"

"Certainly." Griswold replied mood changing in an instant.

The other Georgian left the rifle with him, with its spare five round magazines. Allen was still inspecting it when Shang returned. Much like the regular Model 8 it also broke down into easily transportable halves. Allen chuckled a bit darkly. It made an already handy rifle handier still. Griswold must have had something else in the pipe though to rush off like that. Hopefully it wasn't that fool idea to mount artillery turrets on trains... again.

Still he had half expected his friend to quibble about details, such as the changes to the stock that unless he was mistaken seemed to have taken cues from Winchester's 1907... or possibly the Model 1905. He'd have to see about a sling for this that was one of the things that Griswold hadn't done now that he thought about it.

He had other things to do though, and would need to put this aside.

If there was one thing he hadn't missed about being an officer it was paperwork. Not that being a businessman hadn't had its share of paper work. In point of fact now that he thought about Shang's burden of documents he was really pulling double duty now. Well that was all right, "Just put them there Shang. I'm not quite finished reviewing this lot." He said gesturing to the table. "Anything interesting on the telegraphs?"

"No sir."

That was interestin'. "I'd say I'm surprised. Though we'd have started getting feelers from one of the Jap cliques by now." He commented. Or Hayashi gloating that he was in the country... he was sure the man would do it at some point. Or worse show up at the doorstep... now that he thought about it Hayashi probably would show up in person to visit. He sat back, "We'll try and avoid a repeat of Tietsin. I think I'll just avoid the concession all together." Besides even without Bai Lang, and Hayashi coming to China, he had too much to do.

"Yes sir." Shang agreed, "I put the survey documents on top."

He reached for the bound stack on top, and undid the yarn. "I see." Allen remarked reading the top cover, and flipping through scanning the first couple pages of typed up summary. "Japan's army model against the Qing, and the Russians, was based on Prussia's division structure. Two brigades two regiments." The point was that like the Germans it was standardized, and he suspected that it had been a contributing factor for the Gewer 88 being selected as the standard rifle by the Qing. "I've of the opinion that helps, and I share with the opinion of German curriculum that talking about tactics, and only is a waste of time. An officer needs a broad understanding of military sciences, and a grounding in other sciences as well." The French looked pretty traipsing about, and could talk you to death about how to maneuver a battalion into position and about how brave they would be, but all that meant was your 'elan' resulted in your men getting shot to pieces while you stood there. "But as for the Japanese army in 1893 it was less than eighty thousand men."

That got his attention.

Shang's face went abruptly slack as he proceeded the number. Obviously he had probably thought that Japan must have fought the Qing with much more men than that...

He figured he'd go ahead and drop the other bombshell. That most of Japan's army soldiers... all of the Imperial Japanese Army enlisted had been conscripted peasants and most of them illiterate. "Japan in the course of the war mobilized more troops." He continued. A small salve.

Indeed Pyongyang had fallen by the time Old Man Yamagata had even come ashore. Such that he'd admitted privately over scotch that he'd pushed ahead with operations through winter... and the Chinese probably hadn't expected that sort of thing. Of course that had caused the old man to fall ill in the conditions and had to come home before Christmas 1894.

That was why Yamagata had suggested, or part of why, he explained suggested a ten year plan of military expansion. During which time the Boxer Rebellion would end up happening... and the Russo Japanese war.

He smiled, "The old man likes big divisions." He finished, "In his position I'd have wanted more divisions. TO whit we need smaller formations, several smaller formations, not singular larger ones." When you got down to Bai had lots of guys... that was becoming increasingly apparent. Allen went on to attempt to explain, since they didn't have a proper academy for officers, that idea of having officers understand what the objective was supposed to accomplish. It sort of ran into a problem translating from German into English. Shang was pretty fluent in English, but there were some words that ... didn't work so well.

He'd spent pretty much until lunch, after, looking over the survey documents even though double checking the information and cross referencing and what not was largely an academic exercise. He'd eaten lunch in the office. By that point there was a follow on report that come in from town, and of course there was the matter of steel production. Really that was the backbone of everything they did, because well they had opened the first mill to be able to keep production as in house as possible. The Japs had some word, or concept for it that was eluding his thinking about it, but they weren't too dissimilar to the system in practice. There was plenty that they still had to buy from the states or from storied empires of old Europe of course.

It was steel though that was the cornerstone of modern industry. There was certainly to be better living through chemistry, but that was a more recent venture, made possible by developments in the subject in Germany, and America. It was still better in his opinion to have the means of production locally. That had originally been for the railroad, but it covered other products now, including and not limited to the barrels for arsenal's guns.

The need to fuel trains, and the steel mills though had required other investments. The coal mines, and other mines too. That meant feeding people. The boxers had been bandits originally, the disaffected of a changing, of modernizing country. The left behind. There had been bandit problems even before the Qing had fallen, even before the Xinhai had started, and it wasn't like by that point they hadn't already been planning to sell the Qing guns built locally anyway and for other reasons. So ammunition manufacture had been obvious. President Roosevelt made Monopoly sound like a rude concept, but then again it wasn't as if they were a monopoly. There were lots firms. The Japanese, the Russians, the Germans, the French, and so on were all playing the game supporting plenty of different firms. It was just most of them were down south, and that was probably why Percy was nervous. "Is that it?"

"Yes sir." Shang replied handing it over.

They had a rail line that was going to be all the way to Xian. "Any indication about what's going on in Anwei?"

"Only sporadic fighting, has been reported."

He didn't expect them to. Most likely the Beiyang division had their supply train buttoned up in the rail yard... so they'd be safe there. Any fighting would be just as likely to be one group accidentally stumbling on the other and firing off a couple volleys. On the other hand Sun To-sen had been in the job a couple weeks and there was no telling if he'd be able to handle things.

Looking over the report from Tietsin the official Republic Army under Yuan was supposed to have further downsized to half a million men. Yuan really didn't seem concerned, and given the general consensus on how uncoordinated the '2nd​ revolution' was he might have been on to something. "Well Kiangsi, and Li will be Yuan's problem." He remarked more amiably than he really felt... and Shang went ahead and brought it up.

"What about Mister Graves's telegram?"

"Percy has failed to convince the good doctor to show some sense and move somewhere where he's less likely to get shot or stabbed." It was probably going to be the same for the rest of the missionaries.... they were such a daft breed. He had been about to mutter snidely as much when there was a knock at the door, which swung open pretty much right after.

Cao Kun was not a small fella. He wasn't Allen's height, but he probably out weighed him. "Cao I didn't realize you were in town."

"Yes," The Beiyang officer sat down, and paid no attention to Shang. "Am I interrupting?"

Allen shrugged, "Just railway stuff." He wasn't going to explain Graves's problem to Cao Kun, but railway stuff was also a way of saying it was about money... and Cao Kun was attentive to that. If Cao had noticed the rifle he hadn't said anything about it either.

"Yes I'll get to the point then." He paused even after he said it. "I have a problem... with my division... with my machine guns."

... shit. Griswold was going to kill them both. "With the Maxims." It wasn't really a question. He could guess what was wrong with the stupid heavy bastards.

"Yes, and given the southern rebels. I need that taken care, and I need plenty of ammo."

Well the ammo would be easy...

--
Commentary: This is formative. As a piece it touches a lot of things that show up down the line later on including the expansion of the local arms industry and how that plays.

So the FN 1900 and the Model 8 are functionally the same gun mechanically. There were some ergonomic differences and in the assembly but functionally speaking they operated the same. One was for Europe one was for America and they cost about the same about 30 USD starting. So about the same as what a Mauser Broomhandle cost.

To the best of my knowledge the FN production only was produced (confirmably) in 35 Remington marketed in Europe usually as 9x49mm Browning. I'm surprised there wasn't another cartridge but there isn't any evidence and the gun wasn't especially successful in Europe. Then the War happened.

Allen briefly talks about understanding the intent of orders and the objective is referring to the Prussian general von Moltke, though I had also considered including a von Clausewitz quote.

As to the Maxim early machine guns, of which the Maxim was probably the most reliable, had a tendency to jam. Or overheat, hence water cooled. In service this was also used like a small artillery piece (in many armies it was actually apart of the artillery service) so your gun crew would include ammo men, fire director, spotter, etc... and this probably contributed to the gun being used inefficiently (compared to later machine guns, like the Madsen, which was basically an LMG).
 
Last edited:
Two years, and another Revolt July 1913
Two years, and another Revolt
July 1913

Cao Kun's visit seemed like the tipping point. IN hindsight that made sense. Within a couple of days word started trickling in from everywhere about major movements by the Beiyang... and it was obvious that Yuan had taken his gloves off. Duan had unfortunately had no fucking luck at all forcing Bai Lang into open battle. He, Duan, wasn't especially happy with Sun To-Sen over it either, but there was no telling how that would play out with fighting going on. Qirui had a short temper some times so... there was no telling

It was however clear that Yuan wasn't playing around, and wanted no repeats of China's experience with bad ammunition or shortages from previous conflicts. He was paying in pounds so Allen wasn't going to complain. Not that he minded silver dollars either.

"Do you think they'll get him?"

"No." He replied. That was unfortunate, but, it was the truth. "Yuan isn't happy by any means with Bai running loose but its the south that's the problem. All this sending telegrams to one another though I think is," there had been spate over the last few days of telegrams between various revolutionaries and the government saying ... well all kinds of things and well Bai Lang had yet to send to a telegram to Yuan Shikai. "We don't know if he's in Anwei still or not."

Chang T'sen-fang had had some interesting things to say. With Zhengzhou safe for the time being his information... "We going?"

"No you're staying here. Or more correctly I need you to go down to the end of the new rail line to Xian."

"Why, we're ahead of schedule as it is?" Bill protested half heartedly.

He probably was spoiling for a fight, but the truth was... "I need you down there, and I need you to take Cole with you. There is a good chance that at least one of two things is going to happen. The first is Bai Lang is going to hit the rail line. I'm telling you I'm getting all sorts of bad notions like this is another boxer rebellion simmering on with Sun playing the old buddha to rubber stamp their actions. So there is that. The second plays in that too, except that I've gotten feelers out from not just Percy but the US mission. The Norwegians, and swedes now. Hschow is close to Zhengzhou and you'll be close enough to cleave to either of them." At least so long as the rail line remained open,"More than anything though I want the rail to stay ahead of schedule." He leaned back, "Regardless of whatever Bai is throwing out there, and lets be honest we know he's got more men than any confirmed southern force thus far, he's not going to go tangle with another Beiyang division head on." Not after his uncle had lost an eye in the last dance. Right now he was leading Duan on a merry chase, because Duan division wasn't used to marching all around the countryside, especially with Bai Lang having a distinct advantage in pack animals. That, and Bai probably had at least some degree of popular support according to the reports.

"That's dicey Al."

He knew that, "And I'll be honest, if any of those morons give me the slightest bit a lip I'll knock them over the head and hogtie them for their own good." Bill laughed at that, and agreed that sounded good to him. "Seriously though this mess..." It was funny how quick all the 'civilized' people living in the concession stopped singing Sun and the KMT's praises when the shooting had started down south. That didn't necessarily mean that the money Sun got from overseas had necessarily dried up though... or his supply of arms.

Allen turned towards the glass, and looked past the modern buildings that surrounded the rail yard, and its junction to where in the distance the past buttressed the new. The truth was that Zhili might have been 'directly' ruled by the Qing but they hadn't ever really done anything with the province. Cultivation of the land was simple, and most of the land was rural back country. Of course that was true for the whole country. Before the English, the East India company really, had arrived over a hundred years ago that 'poverty' hadn't been so bad or maybe back then the Qing had been strong enough centrally to really keep a better lid on things. Truthfully he doubted it, the first opium war had been exploitative of a poor Qing starting position.

"What else did Cao Kun have to say?"

He shrugged to Bill's question. "Not much. Qirui is from Anwei we knew that," and so there was no reason to suspect Duan Qirui of dragging his feet intentionally. "I'll admit I'm surprised the money is coming so directly from Yuan," Well rather without Yuan coming by, or even just a telegram, but it didn't matter. Yuan knew Cao was buying the ammo.

"What do you think that means?"

Besides that it had Yuan's seal of approval, "I don't know." He muttered looking over the old town, and its market now and the trickling in of people and wagons, and the coolies going about. "Actually the only thing other than this I've heard about from Yuan's mouth really is our education policy not teaching the Analects of Confucius. Or not teaching all of it rather." It wasn't what Allen had expected at the time. He shrugged. Yuan was a funny fellow at times, and with a hollow leg, but well he was in charge of the country.

"Nothing about the rifles? Or the cannons?"

"No. Cao Kun watched the red legs," Beiyang's red legs were professionals, though admittedly it was blue that was the Chinese artillery color, but their batteries were smaller. Not that a bunch of two gun batteries couldn't be doubled up to normal four guns.... as long as the artillery was the same. Or Eight if you were the Brits. That was why Yuan probably was using two because of the Qing's lack of modern artillery, and having such a mash of different guns. It wasn't like the Russian didn't have the same problem, and what was their excuse. Actually the Russian were worse, they had six guns to a battery of mixed guns. "He's seen artillery before." What the red legs were doing was practical. Marching was practical, but there hadn't been any point in port arms, and parade traipsing. "The fellas are getting rifle time," And learning to clean their rifles, but "so what? Cao has seen all that before. He wasn't going to take the time."

--
To ever prove the validity of classical stratagems Yuan had concentrated his forces while the enemy was fragmented. He had started back in April, but had been moving Beiyang divisions down south at the latest it had been the fourth when the Sixth division under Li Chun had ridden trains into Jiangxi. Sun Yat-sen presumably should have known that was a potential issue, but maybe word of that danger just hadn't been passed on.

Right now though Allen was looking at the end of the month, or near enough as it was the last Friday of the month, report for steel manufacture. This had been the thing Sam had been dogging him about for well basically the whole month. The mill itself employed about three thousand people, which made it basically the single largest employer in town. It turned out bar stock, and the rest which became rail, razor wire, barrels and a slew of other finished steel goods.

If not for Bai Lang the planned expansion could have gone ahead. That would have almost doubled the work force with the expansion of the complex adding another two thousand men. It was Bai Lang not the south though that was the problem. They had tabled the expansion before Song Jiaoren had been shot in Shanghai and that was problem now. They hadn't planned for the much larger guns that Sam had brought back... and they really needed more line space and tooling besides. No they really needed tooling in general. That meant going to Pratt and Whitney... because of course they were the premiere supplier of industrial tooling of all sorts... and that was fine.

It was bringing any kind of tooling in right now that was the problem. There was an obvious answer of course... not one he necessarily liked. The first choice was for Edenborn to go ahead and purchase the lathes and such. Colonel McCulloch was another option, or even for that matter Bill's younger brother Phil who was a lawyer, and financier. There was also Allen's maternal grandfather, and plenty of others.

Buying the tooling wasn't the problem. There were obviously trustworthy individuals who could hold on to it until could be handled. They could then from back east put the the machinery on a big boat. That would mean of course going around south America or Africa. It all ultimately boiled down to the same problem as with the order of guns. Shipping across the ocean, and getting here still meant then offloading them.

They didn't have a railroad that ran from the coast. Pretty much all the railroads built in China were North South. The ones that weren't were far and few between, and were a wide ranging mish mash of short tracks, and different gauges and so on. It was a nightmare to ship anything, but especially because of the potential delays.

Delays which would mean further delays to setting up new lines, or even factories, and that would mean financial losses. That was without even contemplating if Bai Lang managed to actually get at one of the factories.

It wouldn't be until August of the next year that all of this would be resolved. By that point the Panama canal would be open for business. Of course by that point Europe be at war. By the time the tooling and machine parts in question arrived things would prove to be quite different.

There was however one other problem the day's news had brought. Hunan had declared independence and joined the southern rebellion. If it hadn't been so serious well he might have considered that it was all ironic... unfortunately before they had realized just how serious this was turning out had been joking about.

It really was looking like the Boxer Rebellion again. The whole set up ironically mirrored where this time it was the south protesting foreign influence in the country. The same southern provinces who had formed the neutral league and ignored old buddha's raving demands, and her declaration of war on the foreigners in 1900. At least that was what it felt like in Zhili, maybe it felt different somewhere else.
--
Commentary: Technically the Second Revolution is generally recorded to have started in March of 1913, but general hostilities took place over about two months in the south of China from about mid July to mid September. The White Wolf Rebellion lasted, well bluntly Bai Lang was running around from basically before the fall of Qing until roughly the opening of World War 1 though after he was killed in the west the bandits basically dissolved and scattered in the face of the more organized [what would become / prototypical] Ma clique troops.
 
Last edited:
Season Prelude
Season Prelude
27 July 1913
This damned month couldn't end soon enough. Allen lowered his binoculars, and bit down a curse. It wouldn't do to curse in front of the men. At least, outside of a bar. It certainly wouldn't do, to do it in the field like this... not facing the enemy. They were going to have to do things differently though from here on out. They spread across the line, and much like the academy had taught they excavated a foot down and piled that earth in front. They'd run stretches of barbed wire out front pegged down into the ground with simple wooden stakes.

It was textbook. It could have been being demonstrated on the review field. It wasn't enough, or rather there in real combat obvious deficiencies being made apparent. It was quick and with practice they could set it up and fight from it, but the main advantage was in places they had just arrived at and not anywhere they were defending.

It was really only the lack of discipline of the bandit Jia in front of them that was keeping this all together. The bandits outnumbered them, and only their instance in mounting a wholly suicidal cavalcade to their ranks had kept this from being a mess. Four hundred yards distant from the wire were the remains of that first opening action of the battle.

The four three inch guns of the A Battery had opened from well behind the infantry line. The Jia had probably not even realized that they even had artillery... though they had had to have figured that there were machine guns. The shrapnel shells charged with TNT had exploded in a murderous swarm and scythed through the charging horsemen.

It had completely gutted hundreds of men and beasts leaving them to fall upon the earth. Bai Lang had never demonstrated any inclination towards the Red Leg's artistry but a foot deep trench would not cut it against it. The foot of piled earth might offer protection against rounds of a rifle, and more than that concealment, but modern artillery did not need to see you to kill you.


This was not the war between the states, and with recoil mechanisms attached to guns, and cased charges, or even single piece fixed ammunition modern artillery could throw ten rounds a minute.

This was not like the Philippines. It wasn't like their experience with the Xinhai revolt just two years earlier. That opening exchanged had killed more men than the two hours since had by shooting. He wasn't sure if the enemy were preparing to charge again or not. Zhang Zhenfang was somewhere... the military governor of the province might well have been dealing with something like this... or who really knew right now. He might well have been further south, or closer to the situation in Anhui... but he wasn't here with the provincial military.

They were really the only force here. There had been a small local community militia that had been created by surrounding towns and villages pooling their resources... but they had little more than hunting rifles and spears for gods sake. The local police were even less useful than that. Neither were equipped or had the morale to contest a force many times their number.

He turned his binoculars towards the Jia's waving pennants. He didn't recognize the symbol, which didn't surprise him at all. The events of earlier in the month, Song Jiaoren's death months earlier, and so on had given Bai Lang time to swell his ranks and capitalize on how many people were disaffected with Yuan Shikai. It hadn't helped that Yuan was downsizing the army as afast as he could without starting a mutiny... and Bai and been picking those disaffected men up.

Of course that meant having to deal with their upkeep. He doubted it was that, which was why Yuan had done. Or rather it was more likely Yuan's motivation was to save himself the cost of upkeep for more reliable troops. These men were armed with an assortment of weapons true, but they were better armed than the local militia, never mind the police... but they also didn't have artillery either. If there were any machine guns here they hadn't seen any... and quite frankly he doubted anywhere present.

Cole shuffled through the trench and put his rifle against the berm, "Can they sustain this?"

Unfortunately, "Probably so." He affirmed. "That's what's left of a brigade out there." Allen remarked. They were outnumbered close to ten to one... or rather they had been. If they had all come at once they'd probably be dead now, but they hadn't. If they'd rushed them at the start before the guns had come on.

Instead of trenches the divot in the landscape were part of a natural curve in the landscape was where the local dike works had cut channels to feed water from the yellow river into irrigation and canals and what not. It looked like the upkeep hadn't been touched in... probably fifty years, and the sluice works were ruined and dry. That actually made them pretty decent defensive works to hide in, at least as a protection against rifle fire. "What do you want me to tell Dawes?"

Allen wasn't sure. The ruined water works were easily within range. They could figure the range quickly enough to drop shells near enough to in the canal... maybe even directly into depending on the elevation Dawes was getting from the entrenched guns. They were burning daylight. The difference though was that, "Do we know what all they have?"

"I saw Remingtons," He meant Rolling blocks, "and what even looked like Enfields. Martinis. Plenty of 88s, and Winchester repeaters," Which was no surprise. The Qing had actually started trying to manufacture the Commission Rifle model 88, and more importantly had bought plenty of the model from Germany. "I didn't see any Arisaka, though a few Muratas."

The lack of didn't mean anything. The Murata's presence didn't mean anything either. There were probably a lot of large bore rifles like it. Steyr, and, "At least a couple hundred of them are still shooting black powder rifles."

"Its hard to miss that, John." Cole muttered, adding that he had said Martini. "But those could be anything really, might be Gras Rifles the Qing had, or they could be 88s just loaded with black powder."

That was possible, especially if the southern arsenals were providing Bai Lang with their own production ammunition. On the other hand it was also likely that the villages supporting Bai, or even just this specific Jia had a petardist turning out his own black powder to make ammunition. "Or given the rate of Martini Henry." He was so fucking tired of being shot at by guns that would have been considered state of the art in his grandfather's day.

He had been about to say something when another volley of rounds came in.

"These trenches aren't deep enough for this." Cole muttered hunkering down as the chunks came in. No one seemed to be hit. "Get down from there." He snapped to a man with a single stripe on one sleeve. The Manchu suitably chastised pulled back with his scoped rifle in hand.

There was a chatter from a Madsen to their left. Cole reiterated his complaint about the heights, and kicked the rear wall in annoyance. Allen knew he was right, it was self evident. "Yeah, we're going to have to start digging wider and deeper trenches." And felling trees. They'd probably need more barbed wire... if they were going to keep this up. "Grab the phone, ring Dawes, tell him to do half a minute of firing into those dykes."

Cole shuffled sideways to the wooden box with the receiver inlet, and the long wire rolled out behind it, and began speaking. The advantage of trains over horses was that it wasn't just speed, it was volume of material as well. The train was carrying significantly more ammo than they'd be able to manage for one battery with just draft animals.

His consideration was ended at the sudden shout to fix bayonets. There was no stopping the profanity this time. Maybe the bandits just assumed that cannonade had been a fluke, a one off, or something and had then decided it wouldn't happen again. Whatever there reasoning they had maneuvered a squadron of cavalry up and onto the grayed plain. The appearance of horse hands had been what had prompted the command to fix bayonets but it looked as if there were infantry, or dismounts, clamoring to follow on.

Sabers flashed in afternoon light. Seeing that the NCOs barked orders for the men to stand ready.

Some of the men had seen this sort of action before. He didn't see any men with carbines, pretty much every brigand was wielding a saber as if this were some Napoleonic battlefield. It was precisely why the bayonet remained a necessity of war here. They didn't have enough but anchoring both of their flanks were machine guns. A baker's dozen of fellas stretched out to his right, and another to his left, with other squads on the other sides of them. There were four groups, squads, that formed the Platoon and then four of them formed a company.

That was the difference Thirteen men with rifles at this range could cold stop a charge four or five times their number without it ever getting close enough for the bayonet to matter. Horses were skittish things after all. "Cole on your direction."

"Yes sir." The man responded mechanically, and then "Sergeant on my command."

"Yes sir." The sergeant barked orders to hold. Cole gave the command to fire as the charge began to push through the charnel of the last time they'd tried this fool sort of thing. Company A's forward most fighting element, comprising roughly seventy men, opened fire. Machine guns chattered, bolts worked, and no one jumped up out of the dug out.

The infantry or dismounts on the bandit side had been probably fifty sixty yards out of their own lines when the sky broke, and thunder rolled from Dawes's battery. This time it was pure high explosive coming down and while some of the rounds missed the dykes it didn't properly matter. The red legs were close enough a few yards of distance didn't mean much with that kind of round. Modern artillery made the 24 pounder howitzers of the war between the states look tame, anemic even in everything from range, to lethality in terms of its projectile, and of course much like a musket was much surpassed by modern arms in rate of fire.

He knew the scene unfurling behind them. He'd seen the battery in training enough, and others like it to count and when the next roar would come in. Every six seconds after the first a round came from each gun, and thereafter. Twenty rounds was enough.

The cannons fell silent. The sergeant waited and then began barking orders to steady the men. "Send a runner to the machine guns." He ordered. Cole relayed it to the sergeant who ordered a private one way, and another the other. Cole tacked on orders to the stripes that they were free to engage anyone dumb enough to still want to fight.

Some periodic gunfire cracked out over the next few minutes.

"That was tricky."

"Yeah," He agreed. Even though it hadn't come to needing it he had decided already to inquire to Griswold the status of the ten round magazines for the Model 8s. The same probably would be a good idea for the 98s as well, but it would probably be better to have more of those in general before trying to make a second pattern.

A few more days in July were left. This was a hell of a way to spend a Sunday. He glanced down his left flank. They didn't have enough machine guns for this... and as it was they had such a mish mash of guns to start with. Bai had an advantage in numbers and overland mobility that was dangerous.

"What is it?"

Bai had military education... but the Jap's, and the French and the Russians, obsession with the bayonet was enough that maybe he would have tried a headlong attack like this. Yan might be bullheaded enough to try it if he thought it might work, "We need to figure out where Bai Lang actually is." It was a silly comment. The bandit might be in Anhwei maybe, but there was little stopping him from jumping over state lines with impunity.

"If you're worried about it I can put off heading south."

"No Bill needs the cover, and I want those Lees with the two of you."

"Alright, won't say no to that." Cole responded slinging his carbine over his back. "Simmons idea with the Madsen worked pretty well. They only jammed up the once." Certainly they were a lot easier to move around than a Maxim, or even a potato digger.

This would though be nothing compared to the storm the would begin in Europe in a year... but for now there were few indications of that. In a year everything would have changed.
--
Commentary: Missionaries are / were a major contributing factor to the US colonization of the Philippines , and coupled with the general habit and perception of their always running off and getting into trouble and then complain about getting rescued is part of the reason Allen takes a dim view on them in general. This wasn't just the Philippines as by this point the French, Germans British (etc) had used attacks on missionaries to justify ever increasing concessions and spheres of influence.
 
Last edited:
Commentary: Missionaries are / were a major contributing factor to the US colonization of the Philippines , and coupled with the general habit and perception of their always running off and getting into trouble and then complain about getting rescued is part of the reason Allen takes a dim view on them in general. This wasn't just the Philippines as by this point the French, Germans British (etc) had used attacks on missionaries to justify ever increasing concessions and spheres of influence.

The Missionaries going to places they aren't welcome in and getting in trouble thing is something that makes too much sense in my opinion. But the fact that such a thing is a major contributor to the colonization of the Philippines is something I am more curious about. This is because as far as I know the reasons why the Americans wanted the place, to begin with, was more geopolitical mixed in with economic because the place was a Christian bastion in Asia, a Catholic one admittedly so the "Teach those savages about the glories of God" thing may not be as effective.
 
28 July 1913
28 July 1913
It was surreal to realize that they'd seen battle yesterday and train ride had been enough to see them home in short order. Bill wasn't able to enjoy such a luxury his detachment were providing protection for a work camp of thousands working to lay rail, and for that matter telegraph south and west that would eventually link to Xian. Xian, and its province, was another thing. Pretty much everyone was using kerosene, and that was another business opportunity, and lucrative one... but for now there was the fighting to concern himself with. It was reason enough to insist Cole and his unit move to reinforce Bill just out of an abundance of precaution.

Still this was vastly different than the Philippines had been. A new kind of war. Though it seemed it truthfully his mustering out from the National Army hadn't been that long. Yet in the last six months... no the last three months really he'd overseen more expenditure of artillery in battle than shelling as a whole in his entire tour of service. The more he thought about it, and the more he considered the Brits war against the Boers, the more understood Percy's... discomfort. They hadn't even gotten a chance to use the 15 cm guns yet they were too damn heavy to take into the field, and they didn't have ammo set up anyway. So for the time being it was garrisoned at Shijiazhuang. Not that it really needed to be billeted as a training cadre, but that was what they were calling the battery.

So here he was looking at the typed up receipts, and stocks and the business of day to day labor after having fought on the weekend. It had been a year back in February, thus seventeen months, since the last Qing Emperor had abdicated, and truthfully nothing business side of things changed other than the office letterheads when you got down to it.

Moving operations here from Tietsin had more than anything been about getting out of the shadow of the Legation, and the missions and what not. Not that with the march of progress you couldn't just pick up a telephone now... but that was recent. The expansion into telephones had only been something they'd done after the Qing, but even before that the telegraph office could have sent messages all the way to the east coast... back to the states, or even for that matter London. No one in the concessions though would send a telegram like that, most of it was word of mouth, and thus being even a city over meant they had space. They either needed to come here, or they needed to be in Tietsin, or Peking or in a shared city.

The truth was ... the truth was...

He got up from his desk and paced. When you got to it, the only thing Sun Yat-sen could really claim was a string of failed rebellions. The man was a good orator, but in terms of deeds, political action there was nothing but a string of failures and running away. For whatever reason though, Sun could bring money in from overseas, but then Yuan had finagled millions of pounds so...

Allen moved to table against the wall, and the masses of papers. It took several minutes of rifling, and a minute of scanning the found page to locate the appropriate line. Then it was to a map with train schedules, and deliveries.

He wondered if the Qing had simply grown that weak. Yuan had dithered then, but wasn't now. Several divisions had moved south before the start of the month, and others had gone south over the course of July. In their own affairs there were other problems cropping up before the 8th​ division had even left its garrison at Baoding for Hankow. It was the usual minor stuff you saw with new soldiers though, men who didn't know how to move yet. You had to break in shoes, and get used to doing things the way, and drill would even that sort of thing out.

The shooting though meant people getting hurt. It wasn't as if medicine was the only specialist matter that needing to. Feeding the men was basically boiling down to have the company cooks set them out places in the company mess halls. They had train cars for that sort of thing to feed rail crews even before all of this, but that wasn't something that would work forever. Especially if someone ever decided to drop artillery on them... they needed an answer to that regardless of how unlikely that might be.

Such a thing would have sounded ridiculous if not for Hunan having declared independence. Not that their attempt to secede was necessarily going to succeed, but that was not a long trip by rail. More to the point it provided a western, and southern point to fall back to for Bai's troops... or at least in theory any of the disparate group of bandit leaders that seemed to have unified under Bai Lang's nominal direction.

Stretching across the opposite wall was a map of the railways of Asia, and it was to this he turned. It was out of date of course, and while they had made 'edits' it did remind him of his conversation with Jun. The edits needed to be updated he noted from the prints out of the buffet put up in front of the map. It was through these he was thumbing through when a little after one Ji arrived to relay some not entirely unexpected bellyaching from the men about having to practice digging latrines. Allen had to resist sharing the experience of trying to do that in the Philippines.

It was part of army life though, the men would get used to it.

Ji also brought more information about the process of uniforming the men. The humidity was about the humidity was about the same as back home, though not as hot. Georgia was bit hotter than his duty station in the Philippines though the humidity had been worse there in the summer. Summer was when most of the fighting would be in theory... except Bai Lang's veritable swarm of bandits were just that... and unlike the Philippines they'd need winter uniforms for the men here.

Of course thankfully the Qing as part of their accepting modern uniforms had already accepted both a summer pattern and a winter pattern. It would be a simple matter of manufacturing, purchasing, or other wise making modifications to those to fit. There were just... unnecessarily European things that were going to have to go, they just didn't fit with modern soldiering. That would be a task delegated to someone else in the cadre. Some else would handle supply, make adjustments as needed to uniforms to meet needs, and issue equipment to the enlisted men.

It wasn't like they weren't already manufacturing work clothes anyway...

The notion of marching on Sow Gorge though, given the recent contacts, and the pretty concrete evidence from those was that it was unfeasible. The 'revolutionary fervor' was enough that Bai Lang had plenty of popular support, and been able to swell his ranks. That was enough reason not to try and take the wolf from his lair, but there were others.

"Sir there is a phone call."

Allen moved from his office through the room that served as the waiting area, and into an adjoining staff room. Rather staff in the army sense of the word. Allen's office had to pull double duty for commercial as well as the burgeoning business of fighting, this one had been completely remodeled for the bandit fighting. He picked up the receiver and waited for the connection. "General," With a familiarity that would have merited a tongue lashing back when Pershing had been his instructor, "how are the moro lands?"

"I know of few men who can be said to know no fear," The general paused, "The enemy died to a man unbroken." He cleared his throat, "That's not however the matter I called to discuss." No, of course it wasn't. The telephone made the ability to convey information even in excess of the telegraph. "I've spoken with General Wood." Wood had to have known what was going on which meant the information had likely reached, or would soon reach other people in the states "I'd be obliged to hear your own report."

Obliged, that was funny, but it only underscored that he not was talking to him as a subordinate or junior officer. Unfortunately, Allen didn't feel prepared to, all of it was, too fresh. "We're largely constrained by the railway," usually the rails that they themselves had built. "There are poor roads," If any, "and that limits the ability to maneuver. The machine gun, and even more than that Artillery of modern manufacture can shatter a hostile army if it they can be brought to bear. Machine guns have a tendency to jam in the field, and are few in number."

"Rearmament of the field artillery, yes we employed pack howitzers ourselves. Lewis will be promoted to Colonel sometime before the end of the year." Allen suspected the damage though had been done. "General Wood remarks he has not told Crozier of your intentions to manufacture Lewis's gun. It would not be my place to assume he would take issue with that." He might however, Allen refrained from adding, that if Texas procured the Lewis gun say through Colonel McCulloch as Bill's father had expressed interest in the potential of this 'new curiosity'. If Colonel McCulloch got Texas interested, then Colonel House would probably take an interest... and by indication that would soon mean the president.

"Colonel McCulloch was at Fort Meyer." He observed.

"As was General Crozier," Pershing observed sternly a hint of the academy instructor returning. "That's why it would be smart to not advertise."

At least until the Europeans took some of the heat for it all. There was no guarantee Crozier would be unreasonable... unless... "Lewis is unlikely to accept the invitation to come out here." It was true that they had just applied modern artillery, but any studies Lewis wanted to do could easily be done with the manufacturers. Lewis wasn't the sort of fellow looking for the adventure of command.

They made small talk, and danced around the situation in China, but the long and short of it was that the president seemed very concerned about the safety of missionaries in the country. No surprise there, as it was something already discussed. They didn't discuss the banking matters as that was beyond Pershing's own remit, but it was difficult to avoid brushing against that as well. Sun Yat-sen had friends in the states of course even with Lea dead. Even so it was unlikely the handful of marines, legation guards, and 15th​ Infantry in China would be able to respond quickly to any crisis in the deep of the country.

Realistically Hankow and its sibling cities were too far south even with rail. It would be too easy to cut the rail line much as the Boxers had done with the rail going to the Peking. That had during the rebellion hampered efforts to relieve the besieged international settlement in the Qing capital. Of course that was probably the whole point of bringing it up.

It was all politics.

When the call was done he waited a minute before hanging up. A mental map of northern China springing into his mind. The undersea cables were new laid by the British mostly. There were US cables in the Philippines of course, though he wasn't sure how telephone cables connected, but it wasn't likely much different than the telegraph lines. Tietsin, to Peking. to here. So the British would know about the call. The Japanese. The Germans. Probably the Belgians, possibly the French either directly or indirectly. That meant anyone might talk. He picked up the receiver and asked for the operator to connect him to his supervisor. "I need you to give a message to Paul in the morning."

"Yes sir." The telephone mandarin replied officiously. "He is still in." He added after a minute, and Allen recognized he'd probably been waiting for whatever the message was, and that Allen been waiting for him to to signal he was ready.

For a moment Allen was surprised... but then he wasn't. It made sense. "No. Tomorrow is good. Just direct him in the morning to call me, its telephone business. Normal industry fare. Thank you." He bid the man good night after the instructions and hung up, and walked back to look at the map in his officer. It was nearly midnight. Three more days in this blasted month... and it looked like August would be the height campaigning season for China's armies.
 
August 1913
August 1913
The idea of using the Rolling Blocks as drill rifles was working out pretty well. It wasn't perfect, but it was something. The manual of arms was different but it gave the men something to shoot. They were about idiot proof after all. Of course the rolling blocks were graduated to a range that skirmish on the weekend proved they weren't going to be shooting. Two thousand plus meter sights was patently ridiculous.

They had more volunteers than they could hope to take on anyway, never mind that they could arm. The newly arrived Remington Lees had been distributed out in record time. Griswold had pointed out plenty of fellows had fought with Rolling Blocks. Idiot Proof. It was true, though Allen himself had had Krag Jorgenson, and then a 1903 Springfield despite being an engineer in the army... then again conditions in Korea had been unique... and the Philippines had been a mess. In Korea the excuse had been demonstration... in the Philippines it had just been good sense given the moro tribes fighting.

He had wondered idly as he observed the course of morning drill if Bai Lang would be using Jingals if he got forced to defend somewhere. They were seeing an increasing number of Martini Henry after all. While those would still kill someone they worried him less than more modern rifles like the Italian Carcano, or the Japanese Murata, never mind the extremely common 88. At least some of those had probably been taken from Qing arsenals during or even before the 1911 revolt, but some probably came from Republic arsenals in the south, as well as by other means.

Jun, and Hina were both seated over the letters. Conspiring.

He knew better than to assume all they were doing was considering the letters. It was complicated... in more ways than one. Frankly Allen loathed the debacle putting any missionaries up was going to be. Actually just getting to them was sure to be a chore in itself. The Augustana mission was in Honan. The Swedish mission was actually one of the more northern ones, they basically ran south until you were basically tripping over Hankow's outlying bits... at which point you still had missionaries but you started running into the French.

The French were a bunch of arrogant bastards who would have been no help at all in the best of times. They weren't going to get any help there, and frankly he knew that. Hankow was a bit, important city. If the French were given half a chance they'd happily try and bite off the whole southern bit of the country. He didn't need Perce reminding him of that, because if the French did something like that Germany, and Russia, and Japan would all try and follow suit... and it'd be a mess. On top of this whole mess of the southern doctor, and Bai Lang.

There was an arsenal in Hanyang though. He was still considering Hupeh as a province when the papers were put down. "What's the problem?" He dared to ask. Allen had basically already accepted at some point he'd have to listen to some fool parson ramble on about living in sin, or what not... and well the states didn't exactly approve of polygamy.... which was what he was engaged in. If this had been back in the states it would have been bigamy. This wasn't the states though, and it was unlike he'd ever go back to Georgia and settle down there. It was the least complicated aspect of the problem though.

One the Anglican missionaries in the Philippines had found out about magic, and worked himself into a frenzy over it screaming about devils, hellfire and brimstone and what not. That had lasted until a curved knife had been slipped through his ribs. He'd been an asshole to begin with so Allen had minded cleaning up after Bill's indiscretion... actually if Bill hadn't done it Allen had wondered if he wouldn't have cut the man's throat just for all the trouble the man was causing with the locals.

Magic was scarce, rare, and yes poorly understood. Hina's talents were largely physical rendering her resilient to fire and steel, and faster and stronger than most others. Out of the three of them in the room she was the weakest, because they could do the same thing. Jun... Jun could reanimate the dead. The walking dead, the bounding corpses she could bind probably made her more dangerous than he was. Hina was a great more publicly involved though. Jun would make public appearances if she felt it was needed but she had no interest in business or outreach. The latter would make Hina a lot more noticeable. Jun wasn't the sort to stay out of the way though, never mind hide. Even if they only dealt with one of them... Hina was a pretty modern woman.

He leaned back, "I know it won't be ideal to put them up in the hotel." Allen didn't drink much, but he wasn't a teetotaler, and the notion someone would give him the nth degree for any liquor was about in tolerable. Glory was noisy, he'd admit that much. Bill had a still built before the Xinhai had kicked off for making Rye whisky local like. They made Gin as well, and spirits, etc, but the hotel had a bar and that was the main thing.

If there hadn't been kids involved, and other potential problems he would have been happy to drag the troublemakers out by their ears put them under armed guard on a train and ride the whole damn way to Peking and be done with it. The problem with Honan, particularly the south of the province was that was a distance and they'd probably have to stop. If they didn't they'd complain. More to the point he was more comfortable coming up and stopping in town, rather than trying to force on to Peking.

She was giving him a flat look. "Ideal?" Hina questioned.

Damn the torpedoes, he resisted the urge to stand to and flounder without saying anything. "I know its not ideal, Hina. Most of Southern China had declared independence," He already knew that the fatigue had put in a precarious position and in front of both of them. For different reasons, Jun had no interest in riding to the rescue even with the potential benefits. Hina might have cared, but there were caveats to that. "It isn't ideal, but it'll be worth the hassle. The south can't fight its way of a paper bag," Especially not divided like it was, and that riven divide of provinces was why he wasn't worried this would turn into a war between the states, "And that means things will go back to normal. Capital will come back in."
--
Money was the answer to a lot of problems. The banking consortium hadn't raised much of a stir over Song getting shot in that train station. Song's success had, and what had probably made him enough of a worry to potentially warrant that bullet, campaigned on money as well. He'd campaigned for the merchants and land holding vote, and had known just what to say. Song's position had been attractive, if a touch idealistic and naïve. It boiled down to money, after all that was why the southern revolutionaries had called Sun back from abroad where he'd been raising money to be their leader of choice.

Sun however wasn't the only man with ties to foreign capital, not even in South China. Yuan's ability up here to secure that twenty five million pounds was really only notable in terms of just how much money that was.

Allen doubted it was really conditions. The Republic needed the money, and everyone knew it. If Yuan had involved the south in the discussion it would have probably mitigated the problem at least some of it. Maybe... the time with Song's assassination though was one more grievance. Yunnan's declaration of independence though... was basically a giant banner waving to invite the French to come into the southern province even more. That wasn't his problem though.

Bill, and Cole were still out west. Bert, and with him were a couple others in the concession in Tietsin and couldn't make it either. There were still other members who were closer but still couldn't attend for one reason or another. Then there were those even further afield some even out of the country entirely. That left less than a third of the hundred present. They'd stretched an abrogated map of China out over the conference table they were seated around. It ran south to about the Yangtze and then terminated. Any further south wasn't especially in their interest. The northern terminus chopped about half of Manchuria off, and ended in the west with the eastern half of Kansu for the same reasons. A thousand miles give or take from the west to the Yellow sea.

"We are in a god awful mess." The old artillery man snarled rubbing his brow. "Don't you put that in the minutes." At least he wasn't brandishing any cues this time thinking back to July's staff meeting. The placement of figures on the map was not accurate, they were guessing on force deployments and general troop strengths. They best, the ones they were most certain on were the Beiyang division deployments. It was the best they could do given the scale.

They weren't any where near ready to start teaching native officers had to wargame on a board like this, which was a pity, but there was too much else they needed to learn. "Disregarding the fighting in Anhwei-,"

"What fighting?" Someone jutted in.

"Skirmishing if you prefer, Sheridan." Davis muttered before continuing on his original comment, "It doesn't change the fact Bai Lang has a significant volume of men outside of the province."

"Two divisions, three?" A veteran of the Spanish American war questioned. The cavalry man had his arms pressed hard into the table.

"Four at least."

"Is that counting the." couple of "Jia reported in Shantung?"

"It is, but" Sheridan rifled through a stack of telegrams, "Its been argued by the British that there is a chance those are jumping back and forth between Anhwei and Shantung." That it had come from the Brits was information being put forward since it was doubtful that Inniskilling would be returning from India. There had been some grumblings about that, but there were still British troops in Tietsin. "Regardless from our own observations and shared commentary, the main field formation Bai is using are between an Imperial," Or Republican, "Regiment and a brigade proper. These seem to be grouping in fours to form a division. That's by all appearances, and Bai seems to formed three field armies, but that would harken to more troops than we can confirm. We know he has at least one in Anhwei, and one further west." That was easily going to be something like twenty thousand men, and a third would probably push that to thirty or forty thousand men...

... there had been reports of more men almost constantly filtering in, and while some of those were probably duplicate reports, exaggeration or outright lies ... that was still a lot of men. A Beiyang division was in theory supposed to be two brigades of two regiments of a little over fifteen hundred men to each. So totaling to a bit over twelve thousand men.

Money and the Qing's lack of it had been part of that. Bai had forced organization onto his bandits, and there were questions about that. "So is he modelling after the Japanese?" It was a simple question, but it prompted a flurry of debate. The answer was probably no. Bai had almost certainly learned lessons from the Japanese Army structure during his time there. There were lots of other questions though that even with some of them having met their enemy in peace they simply couldn't answer.

Did Bai Lang have a strategic objective planned out? Was he trying to keep the Beiyang busy in the north? Was he counting on Beiyang divisions being occupied down south? Things like that.

There were also questions about organization. They'd seen little indication personally of Bai Lang having an artillery to speak of, though there had been reports of what sounded like pre modern Qing era batteries, and of course he'd demonstrated maxims. The simple answer there was he didn't have the resources to properly employ artillery for whatever reason. Maybe it was cost, maybe he had modern artillery, maybe he just didn't deem it effectively mobile enough.

That mobility was what was keeping his army moving. "His mobility might explain the larger numbers we see in his Regimental equivalent, the larger size might be to support his cavalry and baggage train." There were other explanations, but the horses made a good explanation. "Which presents a problem to envelop them on top of just their superior numbers."

"Firepower secures victory," Dawes snarked. The artilleryman gave the former signals officer a withering look as if to challenge him to contradict the truism. "With sufficient ammo, and volume fire any attack against our positions can be thrown back. John Allen?"

"Bayonets don't carry heavy fortifications," He agreed, regardless of what Japan had decided to claim after the war. "I'm of agreement with Black Jack on the performance of the Japanese Army," To whom they had both been attached as observers to in the war against Russia. "Unless Bai means to throw a mountain of corpses at us he shouldn't be able to dislodge us by infantry with the hodgepodge of equipment we've seen thus far." Everyone shared looks, because... well in this country no one really had any business calling anyone else's equipment a hodgepodge. "We need more field telephones, communication is all important with the artillery being miles back and dug in in most cases."

"More than that," Dawes grunted, glancing "I need trained observers. There are only so many of us who can do that, and that's just not gonna work." He was right, and there were maybe as many as half of their number of recruits who had any aptitude for the job right now.

The signals officer looked at him, and then to John Allen, back to the older, opened his mouth and paused. "I," He looked around to the twenty some other men, "That is one more thing. That's a skillset, a professional one, and we barely have the basics in."

--
 
August 1913 (II)
August 1913 (II)
He was exhausted by the end of the staff meeting in a way that he hadn't been in literal years.

Jun curled her legs up onto the couch and sipped her tea, "The mongrel has eyes and ears in Shansi, and as loath as I am to admit it keeping his vagabonds out has proven troublingly difficult." It was clear she wasn't happy about it.

"Even without spies he'd know about the artillery by now." There was no way they'd have been able to keep the heavier guns quiet about. "And lets be honest the Beiyang army is a sieve as far as rumors and gossip go. That isn't your fault." Allen leaned back into his chair, and propped his feet up on the ottoman, "Is this why you didn't like the missionary idea?"

"It'll be too easy to use those bleating goats to bait a trap." She replied. He had acknowledged as much. There was no rebuttal to that he could offer. Even if they could have rooted out any informants for Bai Lang they couldn't have done it in Tietsin. "A trap to bring you coming."

... "Yeah, I definitely prefer not to fight Bai on his own chosen ground."

Jun wrinkled her nose, "Bai Lang has been hunting soldiers long enough, anything else likely bores him at this point." He wondered if that was the reason she held he should have killed him last year, or the year before during the Xinhai revolt proper. "He's going to keep coming." That was probably true he was willing to admit.

"That might be," He managed. "But what would you even have me to do?"

She scowled at him for putting her on the spot. "You've said it yourself that you don't think they're ready."

Shit, he mused, it wasn't like he'd been ready. The people who were ready for it their first run into the fray were the exceptions not the rule, "That might be, but we've got enough men to fill out the units now." It felt strange putting it on paper as 'Battalion' and then Company, and Platoon... but then sending them all off piecemeal.

"What about the Maxims?"

"The machine guns in general you mean?" Simmons's idea, "We don't have enough machine guns for that." They could have probably bought more Madsens but that would require time they didn't have and there was no way they'd get them quickly. There was also the fact that by the time they did arrive they'd have even more men. "I personally feel standardization on what is practical is the better option. As for actual Maxim guns those are too heavy. Its one thing to put them on a train, and cart them around, but dismounting takes almost as much time as unlimbering," actual artillery and artillery didn't need to be able to see the bandits if someone could direct them... "The potato diggers work better on that account, but they still take set up time."

"What about your friend's design?"

"Griswold is working on it, but production is, complicated." He hadn't really thought about the complexities of the machining or aluminum heat sink. "Its one more thing that will take time Jun."

"You didn't tell your General Wood that."

"I didn't have a time table on the project." And besides the Army back home had a few hundred machine guns only... given that congress providing money was like finding hen's teeth. "Its not like he has some expectation that we will churn out a thousand guns a month. The 30 he passed to Griswold work well enough," but there in that would have been one more caliber, "And it was hand fitted. Lewis put a lot of work into that gun," Fixing it if it did have a problem would be a pain. "The augustana mission isn't hard to get to by rail." They'd have to dismount and take roads, but it was situated in a decent sized town.

"Bai lang is anti Yuan. For all his barking about supporting the southern doctor, he is a man holding a grudge as well."

"I'm sure." He replied. Allen really wasn't sure how much of his political message Bai Lang bought into, but to be sure he wasn't on the same page as Song Jiaoren had been on... "But plenty of people of people will be happy about his propaganda, whether its about land reform or trying to punish Yuan. Either is trouble."

--
... but the truth was he had other things, other jobs to do. Allen watched the Pavesi as it moved in its strange way across the field. They had a little bit of time before they needed to start the next season's planting and they needed to do this. "Why are we here, John Allen?"

"Edenborn wants us to test to see if rubber wheels will work as well as steel wheels." Apparently back home that must have been a bridge too far for people used to using steel wheels. He couldn't exactly imagine it was a cost thing.

"You can put rubber tires on that bastard?"

"No." He replied shaking his head. "Just seeing how it compares." The Italian machine was great for pulling tree stumps up, which was why it was used more for construction... than farming. "Its amazing they like automobiles fine, but stick a tractor in a field and you'd thought you'd slapped the buddha." He wasn't going to push the issue. They didn't have enough tractors anyway, and really Edenborn wanted to measure the impact of mechanization and how changes might effect overall productivity.

It was an experiment that Allen was confident in pursuing, and had been prepared for since Edenborn had started talking about how the whole A&M college system could just do so much more. He was probably right, but there was a fight on the horizon so that wasn't the only reason to get this underway. "So why are really here?"

"Men have got to eat." Allen said pushing his left boot into the podium's railing to see if it'd buckle. "Its part of why Bai has so many men now as opposed to what he he had back in march." They knew that now.

"What?"

"Its been a bad harvest in Honan, and eastwards." Not that was uncommon. The truth was Allen suspected that they'd bled the soil of nutrients, and it probably wasn't great soil to begin with... but that was speculation he'd never tried to confirm it personally. "Short harvest, not enough food, and just in the Qing days you get a horde stirred up to turn to begging or banditry. Bai Lang goes in and recruits." He jerked his head to the Holt Tractor rumbling forward, "I'm sure if we cant through to planting season again he'll slim down, but we have to make it through winter first without any sort of catastrophe."

"Whats that supposed to mean?"

"I need you to put together a labor corp, and clear the eastward area of the city." He responded, "Once we're finished up here, you can take the Pavesi, and go see Griswold for all the barbed wire."

"For what what, what am I supposed to do?"

"I need you to build a line of fortifications that will stand up to having howitzers rain on them, and you're the only one of us from Coastal Artillery."

"Shit, you need to ask Lewis to come over for a spell." He shrugged, and ran a hand through thinning sun streaked blonde brown hair, "Shit," He groaned again, mutter, "I'll give it a shot, I'm going to need several hundred men. Call it an even thousand. I'll give it a shot."

"That's all I'm asking."

It was the beginning of the Labor Corp. That would be what it would be called until 1918, after that they'd ended up changing the name. The labor corp would get folded into the still largely on paper Corp of Engineers with the body of men slowly being replaced as it expanded with enlisted. It would after the move west that it would change again with this time dividing into the Civilian Public Works Bureau of the newly formed Interior Ministry, and the other half remaining as part of the CoE. In the summer of 1913 that would be very very distant in the future though, but the labor corp born out of that organization would prove vital to modern war, and what was to come. They would be overlooked, derided as coolies by most of those entangled in wider conflict after Yuan Shikai death, until that day in 1918.
 
August 1913 (III)
August 1913
(III)

John Allen looked down at his boots. He dressed how he wanted here. He dressed differently in Europe, or when travelling to the states, or just elsewhere. Part of was that the uniform he had worn in the Phillipines simply hadn't been good for where in the world they had been. The US Army had made improvements, but it had been slow, and lackluster at best. His attire, the way he dressed reflected both personal taste, and the reality of getting into it. No one batted so much as an eye at the pistols. The bag that carried his 35 Remington likewise was ignored. If he needed them they were there.

The problem with it, was that wasn't going to work for everyone. Getting the field grey Qing uniform patterns hadn't been hard. They'd ripped those stupid epaulets right off of course, and they had started manufacturing Sam Browne belts, but they didn't have nearly enough of those ready yet. It was the best option though for a uniform carry of a pistol.

Shang was currently cursing as he fumbled disassembly of his pistol. He'd get it in another few minutes at most. Allen focused back on the work orders, and the other papers in front of him. Griswold sat a box of lathe turned two hundred grain bullets down, and looked at him. There was a clanking of metal as he put a satchel down. "Ten rounders like you asked for hoss."

Allen stopped paying attention to work, and fished on out. The Short Magazine Lee Enfield had been developed from the Remington-Lee. The box magazine of the 7mm Mauser version Lee and 303 British rifle were ten round magazines. These were understandably just a bit wider. "What's troubling you Sam?"

Griswold was chewing his bottom lip, and the question had caused Shang to glance up from forcing the uncooperative spring back down, "The magazine release is, well its bugging me is all." He quirked an eyebrow, and fished his 35 out of the rifle case, and pushed upwards on the button forward of the trigger. The five rounder ejected. "Angle isn't great, is it?" It wasn't really a question, the Lee Enfield was basically the same way. "The Winchester is a bit more intuitive, but Gary complained about using it with gloves on come winter." Which despite Griswold's tone was a fair enough complaint, and Sam wasn't done, "banging on about making adjustments to the sight too."

He was up to something. He must have had something in mind to be chasing this perfectionist ... isle of thought. Each of these iterative improvements were improvements, bringing in features from other proven designs... but they were making the gun more complicated. The change from internal to detachable box magazine was worth it, but it did mean more machining time. Griswold had to have recognized that.

Whatever it was he'd find out whenever. He'd been originally worried that Griswold had a more grandiose ambition in mind, and that might still be the case. They were preparing to move more men to different positions. Bill's detachment was working its way towards the ancient city of Xian, or Sian, in the center part of the country building a railway with modern techniques both in terms of surveying and the steam powered and oil fired drivers built in house. Those drivers had alarmed the Qing, but by 1910, just before the railway protection movement in Szechwan province had gotten messy, they had accepted they wouldn't disturb ghosts, or start earthquakes or the like. Then of course there had been other problems to deal with.

The elections months earlier hadn't been without some concerns. Sun was incompetent. There was no getting around it. Certainly the doctor meant well, and he certainly was a good public face, but the man did not in the slightest understand anything about railways. If Allen was honest, he was glad Yuan had fired him from the railway job. It just wasn't something Sun Yat-sen was cut out for... and it showed in the progress of southern organized rail ventures the man was involved in both before the revolution and after he'd taken the post in government.

He flipped through a couple of pages until he reached the documents. The Kohran 1913 Engine was nearly finished in the workshop. It was a strictly conservative design four cylinders rather than his original six cylinder compound, but this was better for right now. Especially, for right now... and realistically represented a better option for local production. The engine designated A001239, would actually be the eightieth engine in the fleet, but the counting system designating 'Steam' and 'Year' of production. That meant '1' and '2' respectively, A designated of course 'Railroad', double aught was the gauge indication for their gauge type. A 'B' would have noted road tractor. The boilers of the steam locomotive wouldn't be done until he returned. "How is the Lewis coming?" He asked.

Griswold shook his head. "Its a clock. Literally, you've seen those gears," He shrugged, "The gas piston, and barrel aren't so difficult. A firing pin is a firing pin. Its a lot of machining though, and the shroud is the biggest hang up." The aluminum shroud served a vital function of the Lewis Gun in terms of automatic fire. It forced air back and across the barrel cooling it, being constructed from aluminum saved weight compared to a water jacket, but increased cost of production. And apparently had given Sam a headache to boot.

"That's too bad." He admitted. More machine guns would have been nice. The cadre was a hundred members, which might have sounded like a big group, but it really wasn't. That was especially true given most of them weren't even present. Griswold decided to change subjects.

--
It was Wednesday, and according to the telegrams he had received anyway things were not going well for the revolutionaries in southern china. Yuan was still demobilizing troops, which was definitely looking like he didn't trust those being demobilized. Still if the Beiyang had to fight its way into a city as big as Canton well... it would be ugly. They'd need cannons to breach city walls like at Hankow.

Of course admittedly during the Xinhai revolt plenty of people on both sides had been using less than modern artillery. If the Beiyang had to breach somewhere like Hankow, or Canton it would most likely be with relatively modern 75mm mountain guns Krupps most likely. He knew there were some older Schneiders in some of the coastal divisions as well. There were others as well, but most likely Yuan would press his suit as strongly as possible using his already forward stationed units from earlier in the summer.

He wasn't expecting anyone to drop by so the knock on his door was unusual. Well, unusual in the sense that Allen had made sure to clear his calendar for the afternoon. Shang was regarding the Japanese staff officer with open suspicion. "Shinnosuke."

"Forrest-san." The smaller man replied looking like he had stepped into the office directly from his tailor's shop. Shinnosuke had strong 'samurai' facial feature, the sort of features Bert suggested were the product of diet, and upper class living. "His excellency Prince Yamagata apologies for any inconvenience caused by the actions of certain misguided subjects of the Emperor who were deceived in acting on the behalf of certain villains known to both his excellency, and yourself."

Well it wasn't as if Yamagata was going to just go the simple route of say Hayashi had ordered those knuckleheads to do something stupid in Tietsin. "Well, as my father is prone to reminding me boys will be boys." The major gave a strained smile.

"Yes, firm discipline is often required." He agreed. "His excellency believed that this reading material would be of use to you." Shang wasn't very happy when Shinnosuke started fishing into his attaché case. "I will be happy to provide any assistance you may require."

"These are, Bai Lang's staff college records." Allen smiled. There were assessments, and papers, studies, and then at the bottom were reports not just from his professors, but from other Japanese officers. Intelligence officers. These were intelligence assessments that continued past Bai's enrollment and graduation.

"As well as evaluations after." Shinnosuke stated watching Allen skimming the documents. "There were concerns about his political leanings during his studies, and those seem to have been born out."

He could see that. The entire package of information was in Japanese, which if Shinnosuke was surprised Allen hadn't needed help translating he hadn't shown it. There were probably some technical details regarding sources he might have needed to question on, but so far he understood everything being presented. The Japanese staff officer was right though. Bai Lang was a lot further left, and revolutionary, at least from the materials he printed up than Song Jiaoren had been.

It occurred to him to ask, "Shinnosuke, are you going to need these back?"

"Not immediately." He admitted.

Then these were probably the originals, which was why the paper he was looking at worried him. "This ship out Vancouver harbor?"

"It has weapons on it we are quite certain." The Japanese officer replied. It wasn't like they hadn't known that Bai Lang had people shipping him guns from Canada. It had never really been a secret per se, but having confirmation of a shipment was... it was a different story. Canada was a British possession... well Dominion, but really that was semantics given it was for all intents and purposes a British flagged vessel. "Shang," the sub altern as the Brits would have called him stood to, "Ring Graves leave a message to call me this evening."

Shinnosuke relaxed.

He could guess why. The Japanese probably didn't want it advertised that they had come across this information. There was an anglo-Japanese alliance, but it would have still come off as suspicious even if this was entirely benign and entirely focused on the actions of persons associated with southern affiliated rebel groups, or anything in the vein.

He wouldn't tell Percy, and Percy wouldn't have time to press the matter.
 
August 1913 (IV)
August 1913 (IV)
Shinnosuke's visit had yielded useful information, along with well more gossip that Shinnosuke probably hadn't intended to advertise.

They didn't have the force necessary to face an equivalent force. They had a brigade strength force total. A thousand men were defending their homes... and two more, though smaller, battalions were divided up either in the field or in rotation to move with cadre leadership attached to infantry companies. To that extent, he didn't need the doctor informing him that 'he didn't like this at all'.

"I'm going to Tsaoyang, we don't have a choice on that." The stupid idiot there refused to see fucking reason and come to them, and Graves didn't have a choice. The British Minister Plenipotentiary to China had made it very very clear to Percy in no uncertain terms that he was alarmed at Bai Lang's movements and that he feared for the well being of British missionaries. His 'concern' was obviously contagious. The Norwegians, and Swedes were also alarmed, and so too were the broader English speaking countries. All of them were being run through the British embassy, which made sense because the US concession in Tietsin had been folded into the British one.

"Is your daddy serious?"

"Unfortunately yes." The elements of the 15th​ Infantry Division as well as the, frankly, tiny contingent of China Marines were on alert, but were not going anywhere. The president did not wish to move additional troops from the Philippines or marines from US ships at this time. That wasn't a surprise, "There is definitely a bunch of American missionaries at Augustana." Augustana was well south of where they knew Bai was operating, and more importantly was closer to Hankow ... they were chancing it but it was in less danger.

If Bai Lang started moving to Hankow he'd be running into the Beiyang 8th​ division, or at least part of it. If Bai Lang was doing that... well they weren't sure what they were going to do, but for the moment Tsaoyang looked to be in the sights of rampaging marauders.

"This is a really bad idea, John." Yeah, so he had been told. "Seriously, Bai could be already be over the border from Anwhei."

Or into Shantung, but that could just be wishful thinking. They were taking a chance. He knew that, and that was why they would be loaded for bear. There were other advantages they had prepared. John Allen had been to Tsaoyang, and its mission before. It had been a few years but he had doubts it had changed particularly much since the fall of the Qing.

The Prussians had developed the concept. His maternal grandfather had introduced him to the concept as a child, along with of course games of strategy like chess. His father had also encouraged the pursuit even though it would be the navy who had first adopted war games as an 'official' part of curriculum. His early graduation from West Point, with the rest of his class, for the war meant there had been less time to refine the skill. They had created as detailed of a model of the area of the mission and the wider county as they were able. The terrain was the easiest part, the question of buildings was... a potential problem.

"It is not 1879, John." The doctor growled. The man was doubtless referencing the last stand the small British force had mounted at Rorke's drift that had turned the Zulu's division sized force back with close to fifty thousand rounds from their breech loading single shot Martini-Henry rifles.

He looked at the Navy man, and further outbursts quelled. "No its not." He agreed. Cole's detachment had the Remington Lees. It was for the obvious reason of congregating their 7mm Mauser rifles together as much as possible at least in field forces. "I think the mission can be defended if it comes under attack." He held up a hand, "If it comes under attack."

"You're gambling entirely too much on what you think you learned from watching the Japs fight Ivan, John. All that is untested. This is not the Phillipines, and it is not 1910, where Bai had at best a couple guys from his home county, where he was one disaffected run off soldier, where-"

"So what's your solution then?" He asked, "You have highlighted problems, but I've yet to hear you provide an alternative."

"We haven't had enough time to train the men."

"That's just another problem that we already know about." He glanced to a flat bed train car, "Now if you've got a solution I'm all for listening. Otherwise, I'm going to make sure the last of everything is ready to be loaded. I need you to make sure that your surgery is prepared if we come back with bleeding bodies, can you do that?"

--
He adjusted the tension on his sling moving his mauser slowing so he could take stock through the Zeiss scope of the semi rural field spread out below them. "You see him Shang?"

"Yes sir."

"You're sure?"

"He is paying too much attention to things."

Not a precise answer, but accurate. "That it?" The vagabond wandering the streets had also been passing messages."

"Sir?"

"Here watch," He moved the scope as the man in his tattered clothes bumped into another vagrant. "Watch the bowls." They picked up each other's bowls and split apart. A few minutes later the dirty beggar was reading one of the crumpled up pieces of paper from the other man's bowl.

"He could be from a tong," A semi legitimate community hall, "Be Hidden Sword brother, Big Sword, Lake." Shang remarked trailing off.

"That's true." Allen agreed. Among those it could have been others, if they'd been further west the Yellow Way society might have been closer to the top. This was a country wtih a lot of secret societies, and it could very well have been one that didn't really exist outside of this province. Bill had cabled them before they had left about a brewing problem on his side of thing. Then of course on top of that there was another potential problem. The missionaries had a problem with getting bandit converts looking to use their new faith as a shield against the law. It didn't always work, and it didn't work as well as it had under the Qing but it still happened. That had consequences, that could have consequences that had absolutely nothing to do with Bai Lang or his bandits. "It could be a problem even if Bai isn't involved."

Allen adjusted his grip. The langevisier actually worked for long range shooting, but outside of singles or doubles of precise shooting he'd found it rare to use that. The Zeiss scope was marketed commercially for hunters, and its primary zero was two hundred like his original mauser rifle's iron sights had been. The difference was that four power of magnification meant he could still see out clearly if things came along, and that made sitting on this hill easier.

A flare streaked high from one of the other hills a few miles distant. Someone had to have seen something to warrant that. A part of him wondered what were the chances that Bai Lang might have been using a similar sort of emergency system... it wasn't as if Very's flare gun were uncommon.... and there were plenty of other flare designs as well.

The response to the signal was a simple one, pull back and consolidate. It was the only way they had to know what had triggered it, and disperse word, but it wasn't hard to guess. Probably one of Bai Lang's Jia had been spotted in force... or what was assumed to be one of them in disguise. Allen adjusted the mauser's sling releasing the tension, and then slinging it. They hoofed it back running into a growing teeming ranks of other men forming up into sections, and squads, platoons, and then finally companies taking shape and NCOs shouting men into ranks.

Now to see if anything happened, or if they were making all this ruckus for no reason.

--
Commentary: Anyway I'm currently experience a rash of Watchdog blue screens using chrome on my PC, which was proven very annoying...

Gun Stuff Allen's Mauser 98 is a commercial hunting rifle production. So principle differences is that it features a turned down bolt handle (this was standard for hunting rifles) and has been fitted with a scope. Again this is pre world war 1 and Mauser did build commercial hunting rifles without the roller coaster sight but I don't know if their commercial rifles in the 98 family did or didn't. The most likely answer is they would have had a simpler sight style, (certainly all of the 1900 era Mauser hunting rifles I've ever seen had hunting iron sights) but here Allen's gun is built for the spitzer cartridge, and presumably Mauser would have had an option for the langevisier as an option if it wasn't standard.

The Enfield, and the Mauser 98 were basically the last modern bolt actions before they were obsolete. You can make an argument that the Arisaka was an improved Mauser and was an improvement. You can talk about the Finnish Mosin 39, but thats way too late. You had a wide range of semi automatic designs that entered production, and really were only delayed because of world war 1 forcing production of other rifles. China's Liu rifle was a blow forward design which was not an unknown concept really it was institutional inertia which delayed the adoption of a mass production standard issue every infantry man gets ones to the point of the US M1 Garand adoption, but basically the writing on the wall with the other big hang up being expense.

This brings back to the point that the eventual Mauser version produced locally are a weird hybrid of both commercial style features as well as military ones. The US Army in the 1870s honestly expected that bayonets were obsolete and wouldn't be needed on future service rifles, that went out the window, but it was a thought. A lot of influences will go into localized versions of production and that gets touched on throughout this series for a number of things.

Side bar on other topics, booted up my emulator (Retromini) and started playing Leaf Green again, so might for the Misc thread post my Pokemon Trainer CYOA snippets, might also start posting my Rapture Academy CYOA story over there as well. On the pokemon front, I forgot just how much Caterpie, and Weedle suck in terms of trying to level them up.
 
August 1913 Conclusion
Reverend Holm, a thin beanstalk of a man, had been quick to say the disturbance in the woods had been unimportant. That they must have been mistaken about possible bandits. That there was no cause for alarm. It wasn't like he was the only preacher who didn't listen. There was a mess of preachers, and doctors here whose only response to the mounting volume of news of the conflict between North and South China was to shake their heads and talk about praying for the problem. They were adamant that he not dig in, not establish defenses around the mission grounds, as that might scare the parishioners and potentially scare away any potential converts ... and saving souls was more important thant temporal illusions of safety.

He had half a mind to get up grab Herbie around the neck from behind and drag him bodily from the mission and get on the train, and make for Tietsin. He didn't. He was going to sit here, drink his coffee and read his newspaper. Cao was saying that the mail would still be running, but the more reliable method of communication was the telegraph. The rail spur was their way out, and that could be obstructed Actually severing the rail line was probably not possible for Bai Lang to do, but he could certainly manage to block it. Anything repairs or clearing would take long enough that Bai could potential spring a trap.

John Allen sat there on the veranda and drank all too aware that the thin mid western folk despite being Americans were not like him. He didn't fit in here. The preachers were all dressed for moving about in town, which was mostly fine. They were dressed like they were in Tietsin, or some city back east, or even London, or Paris. Holm's silly padded shoulders of his double breasted suit jacket seemed goddamn silly in this heat. He lifted his coffee cup and sipped from the shaped tin eyes scanning the tree lined path. It wasn't just the suits though, because his gray uniform was tailored, to almost be snug around his chest giving him full access to the pockets, but more importantly the pistols he carried... or the knife, the ammo along his belt, so forth.

The weapons' presence were conspicuous. He could easily drop his left hand down and pull the pistol from under his shoulder if something came up while he was still sitting. The ivory hilted colt automatics were reassuring, and had been where he had drawn the line. Given their situation he would have preferred to have his mauser, or the nine millimeter browning auto loading rifle handy, but the mission was separated out from town proper.

"Mr Forrest what do you do for a living?" Reverend Holm sat down, "You're not in the army."

"I am an engineer, Reverend. I understand how systems work, where new things can be added to prove efficacy."

"You're a technocrat."

The steam engine, the train, had directly inspired the American automobile. A young man had looked at a steam locomotive and decided to make one that ran on wheels. That had been the first truck. That had been in the eighteen eighties. It had been an iterative development of the existing road engine and one with still unrealized potential. "Most people use the word industrialist." Allen remarked, "Technocrat would be accurate."

"God in the machines."

"Creators the Creator seeks, why else should we not make tools if not to make better things. I spend money making better systems, and that in turn recoups. In short I expend effort and money to a return on investment, which inturn is reinvested as capital into expansion and the industry grows."

"Weber." Holm remarked. "Not that I thought you were a Socialist by any means."

"In Marx's ideal the ultimate goal is the elimination of group identities. No more nations, no social groups." The kind of idea a person comes up with because they've never left the safety of his writing desk, and the company of fellow dreamers.

"A filthy drunk." Holm criticized, which might have been true but Holm's response suggested he was one of those people. Allen shrugged, and went back to his coffee. The minister's critique of German drinking as vice was unnecessary, and pointless. Marx's opinion on organized religion was just one more thing for the man to rant about.

For a man who wasn't worried about bandits he sure was long winded, and thankfully Shang came alone a few minutes in. "Blowhard," Allen muttered darkly. "I'd feel better if we could dig the perimeter up." He could accept that taking trees down was perhaps a bridge too far at this stage but, you could always dig a foot down, and then fill it back. "Did you read the dispatch."

"They're marching on the southern rebel's capital."

Marching was sort of a stretch, but Ponytail had moved to striking distance of Nanking. Calling it the capital of southern rebels was a stretch. Nanking had been loudly proclaimed as the provisional capital of the provisional republic of china two years earlier. "Zhang is not who I'd have put in charge of taking the city." The junior officer looked at him questionably, "Zhang Xun will do fine. He's a competent tactical leader. His brigades have well drilled artillery." The 1903 mountain guns would be light and easily maneuvered to support an assault on the city.

"I do not understand."

"He's going to sack the city, Shang." He shook his head, "I assume Yuan knows that." Zhang wasn't a pointlessly cruel man... but he still wore his queue ... and he had never been a revolutionary. Nanking had never held the republic government. The revolutionary senate had been hiding in the British concession in Hankou and the Brits played intermediary to Yuan and them over the month leading into the new year.

There had never been elections. The brief time that the senate had been there had been there amounted to a few months of last year. That wasn't the point though. Zhang had an opportunity to send a message to the rebels, and it would probably involve a lot of looting and burning stuff. The truth was though that very little had changed in China . "What does that mean?"

"Best case scenario is it provokes Bai to move west from Anhui and go to Nanking to fight Zhang directly." It wasn't unlikely that Bai Lang had feelers out in Kiangsu as a province, maybe even a line of communication to Nanking, but, "I doubt that will happen. Most likely though Yuan is hoping Zhang's assault will scare the rebels into backing down. "He needs to control the rail line going south if he is going to move any troops in any meaningful numbers."

"What will we do then?"

"We'll hold here. The worst case scenario is that all of the Beiyang troops moving into Anhwei force Bai Lang out of the province entirely, in which case we will fall back Shijiazhuang." Shang's questions turned to why they weren't taking greater proactive steps regarding the defense of the mission, and Allen sighed and looked around. It might as well have been a small town, or more a collection of homesteads he supposed, in its own right. They had built the mission in an area that at one point had probably been farmland, which the Qing had turned over to foreign use for this reason or that reason or so on, and over a couple decades had grown up into a carefully manicured facsimile of a little slice of the States. In that respect it wasn't all that different from the British, or the French, Missions, or even the concessions. It did however standout in contrast to the divided neat square allotments of the town proper.

--
Commentary: I had thought I had fixed whatever was causing the DPC watchdog crash, but then yeah. There was going to be a scene involving some riders on the outskirts before opening at the mission, but that got eaten. This is towards the latter half of August 1913.
 
Last edited:
The Burning Month [September 1913]
The Burning Month
Part 1
[September 1913]

John Allen hated the smell of burning horseflesh... if you got right down to it he probably hated it more than the smell of burning people. He was kind of glad Bill wasn't here for this. Colonel McCulloch was a big time rancher out in Texas. Allen had been brought up learning to ride in the eastern style, and horses had been more more a matter of station, and southern genteel, something his parents had insisted on. Bill had grown up roping, and riding, and had aspired to be a cavalryman and at his insistence they had since 1909 organized a derby once a year in town. Admittedly it'd been a simple affair before the Qing, they hadn't had the room or the time to do much in terms of grounds.

Someone had intentionally started the fire. Set the stables in one end of Tsaoyang on fire. Hay, and kerosene were burning. There had been shouts of men. The screams of women, children and horses as the fire had spread. There wasn't anything they could do about it. If Bai Lang wasn't here, it was probably one of the man's relatives. A splinter of metal, shrapnel from one of their guns had taken one of his uncle's eyes weeks ago, but this probably wasn't anything to do with that.

He lowered the post top on the man's midsection, and squeezed. The mauser had a two stage trigger and he pulled clear through the second. The two hundred grain 7.92 lathe turned bullet exploded through the bandit's left shoulder as he tried to navigate one of the stands. It spun the man around as he dropped, but Allen was already moving to track the next man to kill. They were too close for this. It would have been one thing if they'd been up in the bell tower of the mission's church, or roof tops, or hillsides overlooking the rice paddies. The Germans had thought with their spitzer bullets the closest zero they would need would be four hundred meters, and Allen almost wished they had older 98 rifles shooting the older round nose ammunition if only for the two hundred meter zero, which was a lot closer to the distances they were fighting. They were too close.

This was not the sort of fighting Europe envisioned. This was not the sort of fighting the British had done against the Boers at the same time as the Boxer rebellion. He almost questioned why he hadn't brought Griswold's gift... but he knew why. The Model 8 was nearly as heavy as the 98 Mauser was, and given they were just scouting it had made more sense to take the rifle with glass even if it was heavier. It had been a correct choice for going into the field, but was the wrong choice when confronted to the town market half on fire, and turning into a press of panicking merchants, and coolies along with the animals running every which way as well.

He worked the action and sent another round high into the chest of yet another bandit, and knew that they had to break this off. They weren't fighting from a defensive position. Not even short foot deep trenches, never mind barbed wire pulled, and staked in the ground. That was what the second company was supposed to be hustling to do at the Mission even now, damn any objections from the missionaries, but that also meant half their infantry weren't here. It wasn't as if with the market a madhouse they could have brought their machine guns into action anyway.

Black powder discharges marked the enemy positions in a way that their smokeless guns didn't, which would have made the machine guns useful, but that would be true once the killing fields on the church's flanks were set up. Allen waved a hand directing a veteran of the Christmas of 1911 'Railway Protection Force" to start pulling his platoon back to the mission. The Manchu pulled back up the street taking their wounded with them.

They broke contact in the following half hour, withdrew up church road, and under the safety of a quartet of three inch Krupps which dissuaded the dismounted bandits from coming along for the hike. "The fire is spreading."

"That's the Mohammedan part of town." One of the Lutheran preachers remarked.

Which suggested that the fire was intentional, in John Allen's estimation.

"They'll cut us off from the railway," Reverend Johnson, an Anglican, protested.

There was a chance he was right, even incidentally. "What do you see?" He asked one of the men hanging over the tower's balcony.

"Looting I think. They're throwing torches on everything that'll burn." The Norwegian-American replied in the vaguely sing song tones of Minnesota. The church at least was wired for telegrams that had been something that had been put in under the Qing when the mission had been built and Qing superstitions at the time had been leery about cutting the air in the town proper... or something like that.

"Shang?"

"Doctor Stockwell is in his surgery with the others looking at the wounded, a body of men are reinforcing the trench line."

The bandits probably had come down off a camp in the nearby mountains. That didn't tell them anything, and it certainly concealed whether or not the Jia was alone, or if it had reserves. "Doctor Herbet is with him?"

"Yes."

He couldn't spare the men to put Percy's little lordling under guard. There were close to two dozen missionaries here from the states, and England, and a few others besides. The whole community ground was a tinder box as hot as it was on top of that. "We'll deal with the defenses first, we're going to need to start drawing water," And for that matter seeing what they could do to prevent any fires. Shelters would need to be another priority but realistically they were going to run out of daylight before then, "Do we know if the cable line has been cut?"

"No, we've gotten response from Tietsin's office, and Shijiazhuang. Both are aware of our situation. A runner has been sent to bring word to Mr Graves." He could have done without Percy being told. The mission wasn't definitively holdable in its current for, certainly not long term. They could probably hold it, certainly for a week or two at least, until the Beiyang army could be brought in by train, which was the most likely course Percy would push for, but that might not even be necessary.

This whole trip had been brought on by Bai Lang apparently have been going around abducting missionaries. Reverend Holm had apparently some experience there... though Allen wasn't entirely sure if Holm hadn't actually walked up to the bandits at some point in June or July. There was also the possibility that some of Holm's converts were bandits or former bandits themselves, and all of this was some rivalry or grudge that didn't have anything at all to do with Bai Lang personally. Whatever the case they were outnumbered, by an enemy with greater tactical mobility than they had.

Tsaoyang's mission predated the Boxer rebellion. In all honesty the presence of its missionaries, and the likelihood that it provided shelter to Christian converts who were themselves bandits had probably made it a target for the Boxers. Of course the Boxers had tried to take the mission but the Beiyang Army, ignoring Old Buddha's orders, and Provincial Guards from order of the local governor had shot them to pieces when they had tried it in 1900.

If Bai Lang was responsible for this then he'd have that detail in mind. In which case if he meant to take it then there would be an assault with overwhelming numbers, or the bandits would simply cut their losses and withdraw. Of course given that Tsaoyang was positioned between Hankow at one end of the rail line, and ultimately the Peking terminus at the other there were Beiyang troops that could come along from either end. The troops from Hankow would have been here faster though... if Bai Lang was responsible for organizing this he'd have planned for that possibility though as well...

"Sir?"

"Considering whether or not this is Bai baiting Hankow's troops to coming out, or not." He replied to the press. Was Bai Lang doing this to draw troops out of Hankow to stage an attack? Did he mean to try and take the city proper? The mission here was less exposed than the Augustana mission closer to Hankow. There was Fancheng to consider as well. A string of high profile raids on foreigners probably wouldn't make Bai Lang popular with the west, but it would also make Yuan look weak and disorganized if he couldn't' stop Bai Lang from doing it.

Realistically Bai had his pick of targets though Hupeh was teeming with every sort of protestant preacher from every sort from the states, as well any stripe of Anglican from the British Empire be it England, Canada, Australia New Zealand or South Africa. Then there were the lot who didn't speak English, the Germans, the Swiss, the Swedes, and of course you also had the Roman missions... and there were some Russians as well. He was least concerned about the French, and the Russians in Hupeh. The Russians were limited mostly to Hankow, and the French were spread largely south of Hankow stretching their influence until it spilled across the southern banks of the yangtze and kept moving in that directly. They just weren't a concern right now.

"What if he is massing troops at Baofeng?"

That went without saying it was bad. It was indisputable that as the season wore on that Bai's numbers would have to peak at some point. Hopefully they already had. Of course there was the very real chance that the reality of fighting meant he would be supplementing his numbers with deserters or the remnants of other groups, other bandits, other revolutionaries, whatever have you... and that was a problem since Bai arguably had the largest rebel army in the field even if they weren't all together.

The real problem was if he was pulling troops, or he had enough to spare, to mass for a march west, doubly so while they were haying off this far south in his opinion. "Our response is going to be a reaction to what he is doing, and what he means to do." That was not a good tactical position to be in.. they reacting rather than acting, and what was worse, was that Bai Lang had that numerical advantage. "He doesn't seem to be there in person, and I doubt he is here in person." Most likely he was in Anhwei, but it was possible he was down south." He paused, and glanced to Shang's side, "How are you on ammo?" Allen asked indicating the leather pouches of 9mm Mauser in stripper clips.

Shang's 96 had been a batch of twenty five Edenborn had sent over after having been convinced to give them a try by Mauser. Each pistol had cost Edenborn twenty two dollars at that rebated rate, coupled with a volume of ammo. They had arrived in Spring of 1911. They hadn't been the first mausers they had gotten, but they had still arrived before John Allen had received his Colts, though he had been in discussion over acquisition of his pistols which had been delayed by modifications transitioning the Colt Model 1910 to its final iteration as the Model of the year 1911. Any Mauser 96 pistols they picked from off of the Jia would be the older more common 7.63x25 guns. That was fine.
 
The Burning Month
The Burning Month
Part 2
[September 1913]

Bai's first incursion, the bandits first incursion hadn't so much been driven off as they tried to loot and burn their way through town, and then ridden through. Most likely, Allen suspected, was that someone had figured out that the mission attack had failed and had been trying to reassert control of the horde of human locusts and he hadn't succeeded until well after night fall of that Wednesday evening.

Holm and his fellow missionaries weren't happy to the expanded breastworks he'd ordered dug, but then they hadn't been happy when he'd dug battery A in either. The follow on attacks Thursday had included looting and burning in different parts of the town, but it looked like the city center was holding out. The local magistrate had shut the old city's walls. Tsaoyang was a decent sized town after all, being about half of Augusta's size back in the states. They'd seen blooms of white gunsmoke from city walls suggesting that magistrate, and his bailiffs at least had some firearms, but there was no indication how many and that was besides the point.

Several of the American men had revolvers. None of the missionaries had any sort of long gun, though some of the converts had produced pistols, swords, spears, and array of hunting rifles... of which John Allen was somewhat dubious of. The bigger problem he recognized was that the Christian community of Tsaoyang was not surrounding the mission itself. There were converts who lived in close vicinity to the mission but plenty who normally lived in the city proper, and many had been displaced from their homes.

His class had graduated West Point early due to congress fears of war with Spain and the Philippines, never minding that whole siege of the legations business going on concurrent here in China as a result of the Boxer rebellion. He was familiar with the matter only in the after the facts had been settled of it. This was not that. There was no chance of an International relief effort, nor did he suspect there needed to be... but his confidence was not shared by the missionaries, and that was unsettling to their converts. "Sir?"

Allen lowered the binoculars. "Are the field telephones in place?"

"Yes sir."

"Good." They needed to expand the breastworks. Five six feet deep was a lot of digging, but it needed to be done. He had seen no sign that the bandits had artillery, but they needed to dig in, and they needed to shelter the positions, anything that might reduce casualties from an attack. "Battery A needs to made aware of any sort of movement that might be an attack." Most likely they'd come up the road directly. It was the widest junction, anything else would be piece meal pocket advances that were likely to do no good. Not now that there were fighting positions dug. Launching cavalry charge through foothills or the trees just would be plain suicide.

... unless they intended to force it by weight of numbers on the assumption that the artillery couldn't be brought to bear again.

He didn't consider that likely as he went back to scanning the western approach.

The problem was that they were bottled up here. They were stuck here for the time being.

He lowered the binoculars as Shang returned a few minutes later.

"There is a telegram."

"From?"

"The city," Their city rather, "sir."

He raised an eyebrow. Shang's expression was flat, controlled, as if he were trying to to remain as placid as possible. He had read whatever it was, but didn't want to comment. "Alright." He took the creased paper, unfolded it and skimmed, the summation of it all was best summarized by the short part in the center, and in clip tone read, "Shinnosuke received telegram. Jap. Legation. Source. They received instructions Tokyo. Dispute in Legation. Shinnosuke argument other legation member followed."

Yamagata knew something was up then. The rest of the message suggested traffic from the British minister plenipotentiary and also cable traffic from Washington. Apparently the secretary of state was involved according to the American Legation.

"Field fortifications?" Shang asked changing subjects, but looking very satisfied.

"Those pines are gonna be our best option for doing this quickly." The mission had tools plenty even if they didn't have any way to mix up concrete. That was not a necessity, they hadn't had concrete in the Philippines. The defensive fortifications they had dug had been most often a foot down, a foot of piled earth, staked posts and barbed wire strung to the posts. They'd done all of that, and it kept the men busy. It was better than letting them stew, or bemoan the situation. Of course if he were being honest he would have preferred to have been in a position to either attack, or break out from any prolonged confrontation. "If we can, that copse of trees is going to need to be taken down too. I don't like that break in our sight line." He said waving to his left. Of course the only reason the trees were still standing was because it had been just far enough of way that they hadn't been willing to risk it... and they'd need the horses to pull the trees up here, which would take time... and probably make more noise than he liked.
--
There was a crackle of musketry coming from downwind. The volley fell about two hundred yards short churning dirt, and grass. "Hold your fire." He stated evenly still looking towards the white smoke. The sergeant relayed the command as he waited. Then once no one had gotten impetuous he turned to Shang. "The enemy is attempting to suss out where we are." He gestured towards the billowing white smoke, "They can better afford to waste ammo, but they don't know where we are. Maintain fire discipline. If they come within range then you can let them have it."

Shang saluted, and he moved off.

His XO at least had the good sense to stay mum about the situation in town. The preachers wouldn't stop wailing about it. The magistrate seemed to be holding out of course. It was little unfathomable for the bandits to scale thirty foot walls after all... but they might be able to force a gate.

Being reminded of it caused him to glower at Reverend Holm, and all but loom over. "The old town holding out keeps them divided. That less bandits that can be directed at us." The only reason they hadn't tried to break out was the reality that he wasn't sure they'd be able to insure the train would get them clear... or even that they'd be able to get to the train for sure. "But are we going to do?"

"We are going to be patient reverend. It is not my first inclination." There was another rail station south of the town. It was part of the neighboring county, but more importantly it linked to Hankow down the way, which was one direction for the Beiyang to come up from. "But attacking them is not going to solve the problem we face." If they attacked and scattered them they'd likely end up surrounded but without killing fields to catch the enemy in.

"But," Holm's puffed himself up, and sucked in a breath that did nothing favorable to the man's narrow face, "The word, the news that has come in is that the provinces have, that the rebellion is stopped."

"Reverend, Bai had fifty thousand men in the field. He gives absolutely no shit to what some fool down in Nanking thinks." He really would have preferred that the telegram announcing the news that Nanking had surrendered hadn't made the rounds. "He's going to fight. Even if he wasn't he's got no way to tell these guys that the revolution has been defeated, not quickly anyway." Even assuming that they were here for politics, which he doubted, why would they believe any kind of telegram.

"But we could tell them. It might put an end to the slaughter in town."

This man was an idiot. "Yeah, you want to end up like von Kettler, that's your business." any protests to that comment died as there was another volley of rifles from the town road. It sounded closer, but that could have been wishful thinking on his part.
--
Commentary: I don't normally do this sort of thing, but again https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/headstamp/pistols-of-the-warlords/description

Ian over at Forgotten Weapons is doing this thing. It is a book on pistols of the warlord era and I know that this isn't the most popular thread, (I post stuff in this one because I like this) but if you're interested in the Warlord period, gun stuff this looks like it will be really good. It is fully funded, and did so the hour of opening. This is Headstamp's third book so the kickstarter concerns about will really come through are not a concern. I'm a backer to the kickstarter and hope that including this will generate some further interest in the campaign.
 
The Burning Month Part 3
The Burning Month
Part 3
Late September 1913
Hupeh Province
The fire had been closer. Not that the initial inching closer had really been all that noticeable. Rather than having done something... oh like charging up a hill on horse back the couple hundred men having found that they weren't being shot at had kept inching closer. They'd volley about every half hour to see if they got any kind of response. By about four in the afternoon they'd gotten tired of this and launched a charge straight away.

Allen hadn't been present for that one, but it had been met at five hundred meters just over the basic zero of their Mauser 98 rifles. Having found themselves under accurate small arms fire the enemy advanced stalled and died. The survivors had fallen back, and orders to cease called by the sergeants at the trenches. No further attacks came at five, but at a quarter to six it was obvious that something was going on down the road.

He had considered the chance that there would be an attack first thing in the morning, but discarded the idea. No attack came at dusk. A check of the guards at ten showed no indication of attack, but some movement. At near a quarter to one rifles opened up into a mass of men well within the first killing field. It was answered by sporadic surprised fire from the field as the bandits returned fire in the generation direction of their mausers.

A lot of their shots were now going high, which of course they were shooting into the dark. It wasn't as if that wouldn't have been a problem during the daylight but low visibility was not helping. The fact that there was fire burning in the town somewhat back lit part of the road enough to illuminate some movement but not enough to really make out individual figures. "Give the order, do it now."

They were taking a gamble, but at the order flares obediently were launched skyward. The streaks followed with explosions of red light and more importantly the illumination of the ground below. They didn't have a lot of flares, and if this proved to be a standard tactic... they'd be in trouble. They'd built simple little observation towers, towers sounded pretentious as fuck comparing them to the mission bell tower and in them including the bell tower were nested the machine guns.

The two madsens gave short distinct bursts from the smaller cobbled together wooden structures. It had been a huge chore to crate the maxim up into the bell tower, but as it opened down into the roadway it was proved to be every bit of sweat worth it. "Signal." The telephone operator barked into the handset.

Five seconds.

Ten.

Twenty

Thirty.

The first gun of Battery A opened followed by the second a breath later. Canister shot exploded over the field raining cones of hundreds of lead bullets on either side of the roadway. The other half of the battery remained in waiting. The machine guns quieted. The closest men had gotten to at least within two hundred meters. The flares weren't going to last much longer.

They were going to have to be conservative with them. Another aspect of modern fighting he didn't like.

--
They left the bodies along the roadside that Saturday morning. There was no one to take them anyway. They left the wounded in amongst the dead. Protests that they should send litters out there cropped up in the morning from the missionaries but he wasn't sending anyone out there, and there were no signs of white flags signaling a parley as the sun rose into the morning sky. It was a grisly sight to be sure though, but nothing he hadn't seen before, and recently for that matter.

He eyed the mass of rifles littering the bodies. There were predictably little rhyme or reason to the mélange. Single shots, lever actions, and eighty eights. There were other odds and ends guns he wasn't sure of the specifics and he was in no hurry to try and take them from the dead.

"It seems the town is holding."

"I think the fire they started deliberately last night got out of hand." He hadn't had much time to think about it at the time, but it seemed like they were resorting to fire attacks in attempt to literally burn out resistance. It had probably ended up backlighting any bandits in the streets and turned it into a shooting gallery. "It does look like they've burned their way through the Hui side of town though."

"It does." Shang agreed.

He eyed the contusion marring the corner of his XO's face, "That's gonna swell." He remarked.

"It is nothing."

If he said so. "Get some rest Shang, I'll organize the rotations for lunch." The town had been quiet of gunfire all morning, though it was doubtful the bandits had given up. Just that for now they had retreated back enough to lick their wounds and figure out what had gone wrong.

He glanced back to the churned fields. The shrapnel from the explosive shells had scythed through bodies, and that made an awful enough mess, but it was what it did to men's faces, and their heads which really made the scene. If they were lucky then there wouldn't be another attack like that tonight. By the time though the victualizing was done, the men fed, he had a small stack of telegrams to read through. There had been no follow on about Nanking, which meant Cao Kun had been told not to spread it around because something had happened, Cao Kun didn't know anything, or something had happened and Cao Kun was afraid of the reaction. The events of the previous week had been short listed and it did seem as all of the rebelling cities in the south west had been retaken. Chonqing had been the last big one to fall, and probably the one with the most restraint given all the consulates there.

If he had been back home, if he'd been in the office they'd taken the table map out stuck pins in it, and added notes. All the better to keep track of which persons were where, but that wasn't an option here. The missionaries had an atlas of China.

The more interesting news was apparent confirmation that Bai Lang was in southern Anhwei. He might have been trying to bait Chang into a fight or he could have been foraging and looting for food and weapons. Or collecting deserters from the defeated southern rebel armies...whether it was any, all or none, he was also apparently distributing no shortage of leaflets and propaganda. That wasn't new of course, he'd been distributing political screeds, but it seemed to have redoubled.

It wasn't their effectiveness at doing anything that was the issue. It was the fact that he could do it, and that the Beiyang Army couldn't pin him in place and stop him. As for what Bai was up to, if Allen was to guess it was probably a little bit of everything. The bad harvest in Honan had problem swollen his ranks, coupled with whoever he'd been able to recruit over the events of the capital, and politics in general, but poor farms, and beggars would be shed once they had enough money to wander back home for the season... and chances were if the did wander back home they'd still be filtering word back down the grapevine.
 
End of the Fighting Season
End of the Fighting Season


They'd come here by train in as near of a straight trip as could be managed.

The final casualties had totaled out to civilian losses of about a sixth of the town's population for than less than a week of a ruckus. Over three thousand residents, disproportionately Hui, had been killed mostly as a result of the fires set by the Jia. Bai Lang's brigade equivalent hadn't just used fire, but it had in addition to the outright deaths unhoused thousands more of the city's residents, and stripped them of their livelihood. While there had been some resistance throughout the town, the city center had mostly relied on the old Qing walls to protect it against an enemy with no artillery. Allen suspected that if they hadn't been splitting their attention they'd have simply massed to force a gate. Most of Bai's casualties had again come from artillery and machine guns.

A disproportionate number of the Jia's constituents had been armed with braces of revolvers. An abundance of smith and wessons or spanish copies, or local copies of either. Single shot rifles, rolling blocks and martinis mostly, had been common too. These men had not raided any Beiyang armories. No, most likely the weapons they had carried had been brought over from Canada, or the States. That was unfortunate, because that was what the US Legation in Tietsin intended to cable the Secretary of State. The problem was that there were others.

Nominally though the international consortium of bankers, and their respective governments had were ready to recognize Yuan Shikai as the legitimate government of China. In exchange for concessions of course... there was something about the status Mongolia and Tibet in the works, but the second revolution was over. Apparently Sun had fled early in the month to Taiwan before the fighting was even really done, and then to the Japanese home islands and was somewhere in Tokyo now. There was suspicion, rumor circulating, that the Japanese Ambassador had had something to do with that passage.

Yuan was not happy about it by all accounts. The Japanese had been screaming bloody murder about Chang's actions at Nanking, but that seemed completely unrelated to Hayashi's presumable actions regarding Sun. Though, Hayashi was still carrying on about Japanese loss of life, property, a... and insults to the flag during Chang's sack of Nanking.

The ambassador's antics aside none of it did anything to address Bai Lang, which was part of the reason he was in Tietsin when he certainly would have preferred not to be. Still that why Allen was in the British legation drinking Percy's expensive brandy.

"I dare say John Allen that was a splendid showing. Calm resolve in the face of the savage. Saying to the bandit, not an inch further." He sipped from his own glass, "I mean it wasn't Bai Lang in person, but certainly his men are getting quite brazen. Attempting to kidnap missionaries for ransom, the temerity."

Percy went on that for a while. Apparently a couple other of Bai's brigades had hit across eastern Hupeh. They had yet to challenge the three big cities around the Yangtze, but then given Bai had't directly marched on Nanking either he was probably intentionally avoiding Beiyang regulars.

"Minister Jordan has assured me that there be no further shipments of arms to the south through Hong Kong at least." ... That wasn't much of a surprise. John Jordan would probably make the attempt, but the idea that he'd succeed and that there would be 'no further shipments' struck him as ludicrously optimistic. If Hayashi thought that Bai Lang would make a headache for Yuan Shikai then his politics wouldn't matter a whit and murata and arisakas would somehow completely coincidentally end up fall into the wolf's hands before too long. "Anyway those Carcanos you brought in from Tsaoyang, we'll investigate, but I think we'll turn much up."

If they had been in poorer condition and there had been fewer of them the rifles that they had recovered might have been convinced that they were remnants from the Boxer Rebellion. The more likely situation than that was that these were some Italians had brought over during the Qing to try and sway the Beiyang to adopting it. He knew that the Beiyang 6th​ Division had had some of those trials rifles, and that Cao Kun still retained some of them in his inventories.

"They stick out, more than the Arisaka do. The Murata," The Austrian 11mm Manlichers for the same reason, "and especially the commission rifles those I can understand. The 1895, we've known Bai had those. If these had been Vertolis."

"Quite right." He nodded refilling his own brandy, "The likely explanation is someone in the legation of the Italians has sympathies to Sun's cause."

But they'd never be able to prove it. Maybe the Italians thought Sun would be more likely to grant them more influence in China... or maybe it was politics, or maybe it was just money.

--
Even if it was just his personal preference he really would have preferred if the States had kept their concession, and not had their legation in along with the Brits, but that had been Washington's call and so here he was. "The secretary is not happy it came to this, but the situation can't be helped."

Allen grunted at his father's comment. "What about the other missionaries?"

"I was getting there." The old man replied, "There is a telegram circulating in the midwest criticizing the secretary's lack of action, unfortunately it looks it will be getting traction with the other missionary societies, and that will mean president Wilson will be involved."

"Involved how?"

"That would be the question." Forrest the elder loosened his smoking jacket and reached inside, "Jennings has been told about the arms trade, and we cabled Washington regarding the Brits in Hong Kong, Johnson's attempt to limit arms and ammunition through there." He had copies of the requisite transmissions over the lines, "The Japanese are up to something of course, but so are the Russians, but we wouldn't have paid as much attention if we hadn't been watching the Japanese."

There were copies of the original messages, "These aren't encrypted." He muttered, even as he double checked his father's translations in his head. It struck him as strange.

"The Russians don't encrypt their telegrams, John I'm surprised you didn't know that." There was a mild rebuke in there, "What about during the Russo-Japanese fight a few years back?"

He shook his head, "We never had a chance to intercept Russian Telegrams. If the Japanese ever did," Or had been, "they never shared them with us as observers."

"Interesting." The idea occurred to him that General Wood, or General Pershing might know, but he doubted it. If the Japanese had had intercepted communications wasn't so much a stretch he supposed. He knew Hirobumi had tried to read the legations mail on more than one occasion. "What about that staff officer you've got running around? The Shinozaki boy?"

"No."

"No?"

"Well not impossible," He paused, "Hayashi is a lot of things, but he's technically savvy." In a way that Hirobumi just hadn't been.

"You took his code books once."

"Once, yes." John Allen replied... and to be entirely honest that had been part of an escalating tit for tat that nearly ended up with him strongly considered killing Hayashi. "He's not fool enough to make that mistake a second time." But ... the US legation was obviously reading some of the Japanese mail... he must not have had the codes... an insider maybe.

His father left it alone, "Yamagata's son is in Korea. Is that going to be an issue?"

"Isaburo? He's a railway engineer. Not much to say there," especially since he couldn't remember where in Prussia Isaburo had studied engineering. "He understands the necessity of being able to move goods quickly and in a well organized manner, but he's not a military officer."

Forrest the elder shook his head, "No, John that isn't what I'm asking. How does Isaburo figure on matters of missionaries in Korea?"

"Then he's not, he won't figure at all. As long as it doesn't effect his railways, and their funding, I don't think he'll care what's going on around him. Religion? It doesn't matter. It doesn't even enter into his thinking."

"The secretary of state wants to know how we would go about protecting missionaries in asia while respecting the principles of self government? We want to avoid a repeat of the Stenson incident."

He scowled at the comment. "Missionaries in Korea should be safe. Here?" Here you could barely go anywhere without tripping over a bible, "Northern China should be fine." well maybe that was stretching it... "The coastal south should be mostly safe. Hupeh there is too much going on there, or in Anhwei. Yuunan should be fine," Even without the French presence in the south west. "The problem is going to be the inland parts," Where the missionaries were causing the most ruckus, but they'll be too far the western concessions or Peking's power. "Do you even have a list of all the missionaries in the country?"

"I'm working to put a new one together before the new envoy takes his post." It occurred to him that Calhoun had left the country before Song had even gotten shot. "He's due to arrive in November." The elder Forrest leaned back, "Speaking of the rail roads the British are backing out of the rail loans."

He'd heard about it in the papers before anyone had mentioned it. It must have been something in the London side of things. "Are you asking what I make of it?"

"I am."

"I would speculate," He stressed, "And this is based on how little warning we had, that this is coming from London. The bankers most likely, not government, though I know John Jordan isn't happy with them." The Bankers. The truth was that all British policy in China, was that it had always been about commerce. The influence of the trade houses was massive. That had extended as China had been opened to investment. Taft wanted the US banking houses in the consortium, and a lot of pressure had been exerted. The US had been party to the reorganization loan of six million pounds made to the Qing the spring before the revolution. That had been about railway construction in the south.
 
13 October 1913
13th October 1913


Edenborn's letter had been initially penned ... well probably... in late July. At the very least it had been mailed off well before word of any of the recent troubles had reached the states. That was best shown by the body of the letter being mostly an animated giddiness on the matter of trucks, Edenborn had visited Thomas Jeffery early in July. The letter had then gone on to talk about radio, and the standards which had come into effect at the start of that month, but he had made no mention of any of the events in the south, or of Bai Lang's activities, which was no surprise he doubted if in July here had made much news in the papers back home. If it had, at least in July the news probably would have been comparatively mild, and certainly little reason to expect Zhili to be effected. Really how much would the people back home care without something to make them involved, like say the threats against missionaries to make it worth printing in the papers.

He put the papers of the letter to the side, and turned to more local concerns. Baofeng was a problem, a somewhat predictable one though. One of the cores of Bai Lang's political message of course was taxes, and particularly the issue of land reform. Like back home you had big land holders who rented out tennant farmers, it was the same in Japan, and Korea too. The Japanese had attempted to conduct land reform, but that had created its own grievances. Bai Lang's current solution to the issue was simpler, just kill the big land owners, or run 'em off.

The problem wasn't so much Baofeng, but Lushan. They'd been exploring coal there. Bai agitating in Baofeng a year ago had just been pushing out political screeds that ran the gamut, even at times seemingly longing wistfully for the Qing... or at least anyone who wasn't Yuan Shikai. More than that though was the relation of both towns to Zhengzhou further north, and especially its railway hub.

He was still agitating in Baofeng, but it seemed as if most of his attention was focused in the east. He'd sent about ... well what seemed like two brigades down towards Shanghai. There were still some rebel hold outs down that way... but they were mostly the loud sort of idiots in the French concession of the city. That meant the British couldn't really do anything about them, and the French didn't really care one way or another.

The real problem was Bai's mobility, and ability to just outrun Beiyang regulars. Part of that was a rail problem, some of the eastern railways were so horribly laid down that they were lucky if you get ten miles on them, and there was lot of switchover to different gauges where one country had laid down a bit of track here, and a bit there... and then someone else had done it. That most of those lines had been done under the Qing also meant that they weren't in the best of condition for other reasons.

He flipped the papers over, and moved onto the receipts. British pounds for 7.92x57mm ammunition, and 75mm fixed QF shells... all high explosive. There were follow on receipts for arsenal work done mostly on repairing, or overhauling Maxims. Cao Kun didn't like the idea of sending his divisions guns all the way down to Hanyang. There would have been a good chance another Beiyang division would have appropriated them with Cao Kun going there in person, and he certainly wasn't going to do that. Another set of receipts were the matters of exports, which was handled by the concession not the government in Peking.

Allen frowned and looked at the next receipt a little more closely, and scowled. He had known Griswold had been up to something. He picked up the phone on his desk, spoke a little brusquely to the operator, was connected to another one, who went to get his supervisor down at the arsenal, who then connected him to Sam's office. "This about those shells Cao Kun wanted? Or about the maxims?"

"Neither."

"Huh." Griswold seemed genuinely stumped. "Well I haven't gotten around to those Vickers gun yet, just haven't had the time."

"Sam, why am I looking at an invoice of ..." He glanced down at the paper, "What even is a Mauser 1907?"

"Oh, that, they're just export version of 1898s. I was talking to the German Legation while you were down in Hupeh, and the plan had been for the the Qing to buy them, but they've been sitting in Obendorf since the Xinhai. Best thing of all is they don't have Lange's sight on them." Allen grunted, and then glanced at his outbox. "What do you have there?"

"Condolences, Taro died of stomach cancer last Friday." The same day Yuan had been getting resworn into office.
--

"When can we expect them?"

"Next week. Scheduled completion of the rail is Saturday. Give them a week to check everything, and the boys should be back on the first train."

The stretch of rail between Luoyang, and Zhengzhou was the most likely chance that Bai might try to intercept, but even that was unlikely. No the mounting body of evidence was that Bai was for at least probably the season committed in the east. He had troops ranging through eastern Hupeh still, his probable center force at Anhwei, and other smaller groups in the field... whatever force was at Sow gorge and Baofeng were not otherwise engaged in field operations.

About six hundred miles of rail and it would have been something to celebrate. That and the US relaxing tarriffs as signed by President Wilson. That was good news. It was good news but even with the, alleged, 'end of conflict' in the south there were other problems besides Bai Lang still running around.

"Do we move forward with the expansion of the Xian office then?"

The present office was a rented space after all, but with the rail line finished, "Can we afford to is the more pressing question." Allen remarked. It wasn't really intended as a question.

Griswold leaned back in his own chair, and the twenty odd men glanced around. Peter Stockwell cleared his throat, and glanced to one of the other doctors in the cadre the somewhat more substantial form of Paul Stockwell who nodded, "We have eleven men injured." He leaned forward slightly, "All of them should be fit to return to duty, but it does bring a point." Because of course it hadn't just been Stockwell, for as few westerners as there had been at Tsaoyang's mission, a third were proper doctors or nurses, and most everyone had some degree of medical training from living in east asia. "We need more doctors and nurses."

They had needed that even before this. "What's that got to with Xian?"

"Well everything. It was the last major planned expansion to our rail network laid out when we moved here." To Shijiazhuang. "Here, to neighboring towns, Zengzhou, out west. The Qing abdication didn't change any of that, but we expanded in other industries." Lateral expansions for coal, steelmaking, and so on so that pretty much what industries they were already involved in could be supported in house as much as was feasible.... but not medicine. Something Stockwell had always pushed for the university to teach. "We're in textile manufacturing, but finding good cotton for bandages is always a problem. Alcohol to clean wounds,"

"So Xian?"

"Its far enough from the front. You read Bill's telegram about the space available." The girthier man put in.

Shellman's idea didn't have as much merit as it might have had, and most everyone looked uneasily at the idea. "Goes back to the matter of can we do it right now? I'd argue that if, even if we had enough doctors for the idea they'd be needed here. You can go to the city on a fact finding mission, there is no harm in that, but I think everyone will concur we don't have enough doctors right now."

"Do we have an idea of how many would be enough?" Shellman was haggling now. It was no longer a matter of arguing well we're not going to, it was one of we'll need to find out... and that John Allen knew he was unqualified to say.

He wasn't going to get into that. Stockwell, and Shellman had both probably come into this meeting with some idea of what they wanted before anyone else had considered it. "You can present a proposal to cover medicine, surgery, and the pathological."

"And dental." Dawes barked. "Probably have veterinary under as well," He said after a minute where everyone was gummed up. That followed into the discussion of ambulatory matters, and the general disposition of the wounded and so on.
 
The Inglorious end of the 'Second Revolution'
The Inglorious end of the 'Second Revolution'
October 1913

Early October meant enough time had meant that sufficient time had elapsed that they could reliably begin the dissection of all the things that had happened in July, and really for August as well. Allen considered attempting to put together a paper to count all the failed rebellions in the final decade of the Qing, but discarded it as being a fool's errand. There were too many to count. Sun's flight, his escape to Taiwan, and then to Japan proper, was hardly the first time the doctor had run away. He hadn't even been in the country at the time of the Xinhai rebellion breaking out. His appointment by the revolutionary committee to the presidency hadn't even been done in person.

Sun's ability to raise funds though had always been his strongest asset. The doctor being driven from the country did nothing to stop his ability to pass the hat around among the expatriates and supporters abroad. That would fall solely to how much the Brits with their empire, or the Japanese wanted to say on the matter. Wilson was too much of an unknown, the president's position was unclear.

The British reports from Shanghai were less than illuminating. The descriptions that the rebel horde, who in some reports might have outnumbered Beiyang forces ten to one, was utterly unable to apply those numbers in anything but suicidal frenzied 'boxer' attacks. Only in the smallest of units did it seem that there was anything approaching leadership. The British reports on Beiyang performance spoke of disputes between the Beiyang Navy, and Army, and issues of supply.

Percy had sent along some concerning reports of Danish built Maxims among the rebel ranks. Those had been in supplement to Hotchkiss 75mm, and Layfettes guns of if Percy's report was correct sounded of a vintage around the time of the war between the states. Not that the artillery on the rebel side had done much good. Beiyang red legs had probably been responsible for keep the rebels from taking the arsenal at Kiangnan with liberal application of cannister to massed attacks.

The report said most the fighting was done by 27th​. No, if Allen was most worried about anything from the reports it was the abundance of night fighting being carried on by what were in all accounts untrained green volunteers. "What do you make of it?"

"I don't think that John Jordan is wrong." He said looking over the table map again, "If the numbers Shanghai reported are right, Bai heading down there in person might very well spark another round of fighting. If he could have linked up with Huang Xing." Speaking of, "Do we have any word on where he is?"

"No, general assumption is that he fled for Taiwan. Undoubtedly he'll be running for Japan, looking to join up with Sun."

"That's a bit of sunshine at least. Huang linking up with Bai would be a pain." He muttered. Sun and friends had in the grand Yankee tradition indulged in a grand volume of yellow journalism to rile the masses up for war by all accounts. The local publications reminded him of the papers surrounding the Maine going up. It was the sort of thing he was surprised Yuan had not tried to ape, because by the British accounts it was effective. Alarmingly effective to him, if not necessarily the British officers in Shanghai who were sort of poo poo-ing what they called a sort of 'French habit of grievance airing in public'.

As opposed to in the smoking of course.

The grievances between the French and English weren't his immediate concern. "What do you make of Shellman's idea?"

"I'm not saying he's yellow, but," Griswold prefaced, which did in fact mean Sam was questioning how much steel was in the navy man's spine. "There is something to be said for the idea if not necessarily why he's keen to it. It would be better to wait until the rest are back. We're short handed as it is."

"True," He drummed his fingers, there were other matters. Griswold was short handed because he needed more staff. "These Qing mausers?"

"Mauser sold them the damn tooling, but its in Gaungzhou's arsenal." That was a pity. It would have been one thing if the tooling had ended up in Hanyang. "I'm told its in good condition though, which well we'll see if thats good or bad."

Still, "And its basically the 98?"

"All yeah its basically the 98/04 updated for boat tails, basically identical to what we have license to produce from Mauser just under the 'Gewehr' moniker, or military pattern." Which of course probably politics, and business. Loewe maybe... hard to know the man had been dead three years... or someone else. "Not like there was any exclusivity expectation or anything." Griswold certainly didn't sound convincing as he said that. "Anyway there isn't really any difference," The other Georgian shrugged, and rifled through the papers occupying his desk. "I asked around, and Mauser did ship the tooling to Canton, but they produced so few rifles since the revolt we just missed it."

"Can they produce 98s?"

"They've got the tooling, if they've set the lines up, then the next thing would be to retrain people, or train new people," Which was less likely than the first option, "to manufacture them. Given this whole mess."

Allen nodded. There had been no reason to go down south, certainly that far south since the revolution. China was a big country... it was still an oversight. "Liu mentioned he going to the states," whatever it was he was working on had Bill's attention at least, "But it would be a good idea to figure out who all has what tooling to begin with."

"What's the dapper fellow looking for? Surely he ain't going to Springfield?"

"No, Bill said he's planning a shopping trip to Pratt and Whitney."

"For tooling? How does Yuan feel about that kind of trip, given the situation?" Allen shrugged. He really had no idea how the President of China felt about it. "Let 'em talk them, so what about that?" He asked jerking his head towards Graves's report. "Ten to one? How did that manage to happen thats pretty steeper odds than I'd normally give professional soldiers. If it was the Brits talking about themselves I'd say they were exaggerating to look good."

"You remember the railway riots just before the Xinhai revolt kicked off?"

"Sure." Griswold shrugged. "The Qing told the states, provinces you can finance your own railways, then down the road got fed up by lack of progress and tried to take over the railways, then started shooting people who came out to complain."

"That's right, well the people down south about the nationalization were mostly students. You had landholders, and others, but the majority of them of who hadn't ever had any sort of military experience. No training at all." It had been a bunch of students protesting the nationalization of the Huakuang, because it being sold off would mean opening rights up for the new owners to do everything from lay telegraph wire, to exploiting coal, iron, wood or other natural resources. The value of that could not be understated, especially for British investors not tied down to a specific sphere of influence... and that had made them a thorn in John Jordan's side the whole while. "They still had thousands of warm bodies."

"And they got shot to pieces when the Beiyang went in." Yeah.... and about that same time Luzhen, the general of the Beiyang sixth division had been shot down in the streets of town. Bai Lang had fled Shijiazhuang running all the way back to his home town in Baofeng before having allegedly leaving there. There were disagreements to where Bai had gone, but by the time of the Wuchang fighting Bai Lang had made it clear where he stood. "John?" Griswold grunted. "You alright? You looked, never mind."

"I looked what?"

"Like that time in Mindanao." He shuffled turning back to things. "Anyway you're probably right I was just gonna say that I think one of Percy's sources called them 'a teeming mass of the dregs of humanity' and 'a collection of peasants and ex coolies stirred up into a riotous mob that proceeded to rampage through the market place'."

Allen shrugged, and reached into his desk drawer, fishing for the reply to the letter he'd sent out at the beginning of the week, "This is from Willy, he's got a slightly different sort of opinion about what happened down in Shanghai, though of course his opinion is that either there was no leadership above the company level, there were contradictory orders, or they just mind-bogglingly incompetent."

Griswold eyed the letter, "Think they'll let us borrow him. Scars is about the only fella I know who actually likes this bayonet crap. Brit Marines must not be too different from ours."

Allen laughed, "I'll ask John Jordan if he can spare some of the officers of Shanghai's police. Cole's friends from back home are something else we need to talk about."

Griswold shrugged, "Some of them are Republicans, some of them are royalists, we'll be lucky if they don't get into a fight because they hadn't taken shots at one another somewhere else." He shook his head, "Cole can pick 'em, but I guess he gets that honest. His pappy was always looking for another war to fight. So that's the end of this revolt?"

"Old Yamagata has stated that Sun is in Tokyo, the doctor is the guest of some well and influential friends in Japan."

Sam raised his class, "Failed rebellions."

John lifted his own, "Failed rebellions."

"If Lea was still alive he might have shipped for California, but it don't matter."
 
A thousand miles
A thousand miles
He'd accorded himself a few days at home. There was plenty of work, reading, and correspondences he needed to write to occupy the few days. IT wasn't a perfect solution, he was reading about rice offices in his study on Friday morning, and hearing the fucking church bells every time the clock tower dinged. Not that he hadn't already been in a mounting black mood.

Jun reproved the whole mess. That was made worse by her currently holding one Percy's reports, which unfortunately been confirmed by the States as well. "It would seem that the southern doctor has been conspiring with Japan for some time." She remarked coldly.

It went a ways to explaining John Jordan banning Sun as fast as he had after the second revolution had fallen through though. "I've read it. Percy has no more proof that that started any earlier than May," which admittedly was still not impossible, and it went a ways to explain things further. No one had ponied up proof. The presence of Japanese rifles was not conclusive. "Though yes it probably did." He hedged at her look. "Jordan cutting Sun off from British ports, and reducing their ability to source arms and ammunition in British holdings is about the sum of what he can do." He was idly concerned about how long Jordan could maintain that position. "That isn't to say Jordan doesn't have other reasons he's chiefly responsible for the loan this spring actually happening," And that had been a loan that Sun and the others in his party had strongly opposed. It had been one of the complaints of publications in Canton against Yuan's government, which was a problem particularly for Hong Kong.

"The British have pulled themselves from the banking consortium."

He shook his head, "No its just the railways," Which was still a pretty big break from British policy all the same. "In the best case scenario its someone in the foreign office, Grey maybe," Allen speculated, "Who's gotten his nerve up to try and get further concessions out of it. The other possibility," And the one more likely, "is John Jordan has upset some banker, or bankers back in London and that the mess down south was the last straw and their just not comfortable with throwing more money at the situation until things calm down." Or Jordan got replaced, which would be very bad in terms of stability. "Yuan's extended concessions on Mongolian and Tibetan sovereignty." There was also what he'd given Japan, and the Russians for that matter. The states had officially, and so far as he was aware, not asked for anything. He had yet to hear if the French were going to ask for anything or not before offering recognition of Yuan's new government. If the French asked for concessions in the south... then they were likely in for more trouble.

"What will you do then? When William gets back. Take him and Cole down to Shanghai?"

"Not in this mess." He replied. Jun wasn't wrong though, it would have been a good opportunity to try and carve out some business from the British Banks, or other American interests, but not with Bai Lang still at large. The newspapers couldn't make up their mind... but there were like three hundred of them publishing... and no one could say for sure where Bai really was. Either Nanking or Shanghai were possible. "I suspect Bai means to circle north, and west. I don't think he's going to pull back as far as Baofeng, or even chance Zhengzhou just yet, but winter is coming."

"He will try to replenish his ranks in the south."

"You think so?"

"He will collect the ditch diggers." She repeated more forcefully. "It will at least obsfuscate his quality troops in a much larger mass,"

"Cover to move. I understand." He replied, "That probably explains the uptick in lynching magistrates and land owners, but thats also going to force Yuan to send more troops after him. Of course if he builds enough of a mass," even if it wasn't one that would stand and fight, "It'll look like he's stirred up a third revolution in the north."

"Such might discourage the consortium from making further loans," Out of an aversion for risk if nothing else, "And that would weaking the president's ability to act given the financial situation of the capital."

Was Bai actually thinking that far ahead? They had scrapped the idea to march on Sow gorge because of confirmatin that Bai's number of bandits had swollen to a number that was absurd to consider attacking period, never mind after a cross country march. Besides that they'd needed the draft animals, the mules and the horses, for too many other things. Never mind that it was likely that anyone in Baofeng and the surounding area would have run to Bai Lang's men the second they tried to march... they had to come up with a better plan.

"Bandits are loath to attack castles." She remarked. "Places with strong guards deter dogs."

Allen raised an eyebrow, because given the way the Beiyang army was all stirred up that might be true. "You're right Tsaoyang should have been easy pickings." The Augustana mission and the others weren't particularly well defended either... but if Bai was counting on being able to diminish western support for Yuan he was seriously misjudging the French, and the Japanese... or for that matter Wilson if he kept on after the missionaries. "There are other places he could try that should be easier and lucrative." That was the problem. Bai's numbers were so large as you might have confused them with a horde of locusts, and he'd cast a wide net across several provinces. "If his army gets any larger Yuan might well have to pull the Beiyang army back."

Yuan Shikai had been downsizing before all of this. The 'second revolution' had forced him to add eighty somthing thousand men to the half a million he had had at the start of august. That was more than four times the size of the US Army... and that increase in expediture probably meant he was hemmoraging even more money.
--
Saturday was almost as busy as any other day, but thankfully cooler than the city he'd been born in this time of year. "Show brother John the matter," Cole grunted as if he weren't carrying his Swedish carbine in public. Then again if anyone cared they didn't show it, and the truth was they probably didn't. By this point after all the arms had long since become normal.

"What is that?" He asked eyeing the jar.

"Its kerosene."

"And?" He asked waiting to be let in on the joke.

Cole, and Bill both exchanged looks. "Its used for lamps, and heating houses."

"Yes, Cole I know that. Why are you showing it to me."

"No, in Sian, its used to heat houses and light lamps."

As opposed to what he was tempted to ask, but Bill shook his head, "John, they use a lot of the stuff, and I've checked, enough that the run off has caught the river on fire before."

Which was a known hazard.... "You think we could get into oil out that way?"

"Not this year," The texan drawled, "Maybe not even next. The bridges, and everything should all be fine, but I want to make sure our line works and we've got normal business running, but if things quiet down I would like to give it a go."

Allen nodded, "We'll talk about it, there is a lot of talk about how we're going to expand with the Xian route finished. Since thats finished, we have something of a celebration to get to. I have consulted the records, and double checked, and triple checked. We have completed this year some thousand miles of track." The line to Xian had of course been the largest expansion of the project, it had after all been the last of their original plans. The rail to the great old city of the interior had more than doubled their total. Three years of experience with local conditions had given them the insight, and the body of labor necessary to finish the other projects... and of course it had helped that there hadn't been any delays about steel ties, and they were mining their own coal. "We are going to have a night. Then next week the majority of us will be in town." With any luck there would be enough of the cadre present to seriously talk about all the lateral expansions over the last year... never mind the whole army thing...

There were going to need to be changes not just for 1914 but for the years ahead.
--
Commentary: SG1 will update tomorrow, Headstamp Publishing's Pistol of the Warlords Kickstarter finishes today, so I figured I'd post this instead, and go watch the livestream.


This marks sort of the half way point for this story (that is the White Wolf Rebellion). Now in terms of set up this is written in a snippet style of writing, and there is a lot of material that I just don't cover. Part of this is a facet of how I do most of my writing style these days as this is largely a I do this as a mental exercise, and more importantly for fun.

To get to the point though, this is the half way point of the White Wolf Rebellion story, which in total covers a period of roughly sixteen months. It goes from about March of 1913 to the announcement of World War 1. The idea for this story existed from very early in the first segment of AoE, even before the Romanoff Rescue segment even.

Instead of picking up in the following month, or even with the conclusion of the Siege of Tsingtao is that most likely I will for this project skip straight ahead to the time frame of the original snippets. That is to say summer of 1916 after the 'National Protection War' has concluded, and Yuan Shikai has passed away. The main reason for this is that while there are 'empire building', and trade matters to discuss, the National Protection War doesn't principally involve the north, even accounting for Yan Xishan (historically) declaring his province independent of Beijing. The fighting is largely concentrated in the south, and Yuan Shikai's power base is never directly threatened nor does the south ever really unify to present as a coherent entity. As far as talking about the emergence of the warlord states that can be done in July or August or the following months of 1916.

That brings me to an opportunity to sidebar into history. This is a work of fiction. Its alternate history and I've done academic research in the topic, but I do take some liberties. I also adhere to somewhat more modern scholarly traditions, and that includes I consider the warlord period to have begun in at least as late as 1911. (Some people will make the argument that it started with the Boxer Rebellion, where the southern provinces refused to heed Cici's anti foreigner / support the boxer declaration). Our primary sources on the period aren't great, but I have made do with what I have access to, and I have taken some liberties here and there.


So moving on into the 'warlord period' of post 1916 we get into the further collapse of central order, but the provincial cliques already basically existed. So the basic points in 1911 a revolutionary committee based in south china selected Sun Yat-sen to be president of the repbulic, and this was not a bad choice. Sun had two things going for him. He had revolutionary bona fides and he was a good orator. This made him good at talking to the west and raising money. The problem is that Sun had never lead a successful revolution, and he had organized several by this point, and he was unfortunately not in the country at the time of the Xinhai revolt. This is because the uprising in Wuchang was not planned.

Meanwhile in the north Yuan's supporters basically convinced the Manchu court that 'hey he's the only guy who can lead the Beiyang army'. Yuan had been forced into retirement likely as a result of his decisions to ignore Cici during the boxer rebellion or just being too influential and powerful with the government in general. Yuan had went quietly into retirement, but that didn't mean he necessarily liked it. Yuan's Beiyang Army post allowed him to become the power broker that negotiated the end to the revolution, but his power at the time already basically existed in a soft form. There was no military way forward for the southern revolutionaries, but at the same time the writing was also on the wall that there would be yet more revolts in the future (as was proven down the road in both Bai Lang running around (and Bai Lang deserted the Beiyang after his CO was gunned down in 1911), as well as the 'second revolution').

So Yuan negotiated Puyi's abdication, and played nice with the South, but he was never a revolutionary, even if he was a reformer, and he enjoyed a lot of support from the royalist party, and that probably fed into his own imperial ambitions. Sun Yat-sen was never elected by popular vote, and neither was Yuan, but Yuan Shikai can at least be recognizably said to have been de facto ruler of China from about 1912 onwards both in terms of military control as well as in terms of foreign recognition.

This is also probably why Sun was less of a threat than Song Jiaoren was. Song was a younger charismatic figure in the revolutionary movement, and even if Yuan didn't order his death directly, its rather probable there was a 'won't someone rid me of this troublesome priest' comment. Song was probably more competent than Sun would have been as a political leader in terms of parliamentary system. He had a much stronger if not as broad base, and it was in China's emerging middle class both, in both the urban as well as landholding class in the countryside of the south. Song Jiaoren was less revolutionary and thus could better appeal to the existing Confucian elite, which would be something Sun ran into problems with. Bai Lang in what political material we know he distributed argued for even more expansive land reform than Sun himself did, and certainly more vigorously and regularly than Sun did. Bai Lang also argued for some of what might be considered Sydnicalism, though not necessarily Socialism as it existed in the early 1900s tempered by the practical reality of well the last few years of his life on the run.

Song basically would have forced Sun into a secondary role in terms of the party, and that probably was already creating strife within the guomindang as it existed at the time. Not that this wasn't already an issue, Sun had run into this while he'd been hiding abroad during the Qing, and he doubled down on it while taking refuge in Japan after the second revolution. (And Sun knew a sinking ship, he fled for Taiwan in August, before the fall of most of the provinces who had declared independence.)

Now what is talked about less frequently, is the fact that Japan was in no way a monolithic entity during this period and the variety of assistance and aid that various factions in the north and south received (as Japan was a major supplier of funds and arms) is likely due to Japan's own various cliques and not just the military ones.
 
Last edited:
Chaos 1913
The problem of chaos
1913

It would have been easy to forget that Sun didn't speak for everyone in his province, his city or even for that matter his whole party if you only read the foreign papers. Not that right now the Western Papers were being all that charitable to Sun, but give it a month and they'd have probably change their tune again. The 'missionary problem' as the British Foreign Mission had been calling it sense the time of the war between the states was not going to resolve itself any time soon.

Liang's almost panicky correspondence was ... well not unusual for the man. The idea that Bai might actually dynamiting railways was not an unheard of concern, but the southerner, Liang being from Canton and all, was really only concerned with the financial impact than the military one was talking about cotton, and silk, and tobacco. Of course that also made Liang probably the richest man in the country. Back in the states that was the sort of thing that would have gotten some muckraker in New York to complain about, seeing as Liang was in addition to being head of his own bank was also in government... and would probably be taking up the post Sun had gotten kicked out of... thus having to take the job with Bai running loose with the dynamite wasn't something he wanted on his plate.

Liang was strictly speaking Yuan's money guy. The man had been a Qing bureaucrat his whole life, and had absolutely no army experience, and didn't want any. He didn't want to be involved in the army side of things, and would have been just as happy being left to make money, and live vicariously. Allen actually suspected that Liang didn't even like politics, and would have been more comfortable just dealing with the business side of things, but being in the government let him end up going to a lot more parties.

The 'war' had probably just annoyed him. Liang had been a long time supporter of Yuan's anyway, and didn't have a revolutionary bone in his body. So having a bunch of school boys threatened his railways in 1911 had probably set him off. He hadn't been particularly happy when Sun had gotten the railway post in the cabinet either, but he had shut up and put up with the indignity of it if perhaps only because on paper at least Sun and he agreed that railroads were important.

If there was anything surprising at all about the letter it was that Liang hadn't commented on the Xian line finishing, but that could be explained by the news just not having reached him, before this had been mailed. There were enough reports on bandit activity that he had other problems to contend with than to be offended. "I was hoping to avoid a trip back to Tietsin this soon," He muttered. As far as cash crops went the farming concessions in the business of growing it in Honan were tied up with one, or another of, the big joint Anglo-American concerns.

Bill grimaced and sat back. Cole had neglected to attend this meeting citing he had a pressing engagement with Griswold, Phillips, and the rest of 'ordinance technical committee' for ... something. He hadn't been very clear on what that might be, but it wasn't as if it was necessary for him to be here, "Harvest in Honan generally runs August to now, but like you said its been a shit year." He observed. "The whole revolution thing just meant even more reason for people to rob their neighbors as well."

The Xinhai revolt had started late in 1911 that the bandits who had been preparing to spend the winter months plundering had run head long into the Beiyang Army as it had moved south. They had either decided against fighting, or picked sides... Bai Lang had thrown in against Yuan Shikai but given the size of the national army neither he nor anyone else had been able to do much to stop them. "Well from his reports, I'm glad I'm not in tobacco." Oh the bandits would probably sell some of the crop, to be sure, but tobacco was a consumable and they'd probably end up rolling their own cigarettes, or stuff it in pipes as spoilage. "Not much we'll be able to do about it." Liang's information was useful, but the bandits were probably riding up from Hupeh.

"Make anything about his specification of tobacco in Xuchang?"

"That's what they grow, why?"

"Opium."

"Liang isn't involved in that, Yuan Shikai hates the stuff," He grunted, "Liang wouldn't be the sort to get tangled into starting a fight like that. He's got much safer ways to make money." Bill shrugged and drained the last of his whisky, "Why do you think he's involved in Opium?'

"I just know that its on the upswing again." He got up to refill his tumbler, and glanced at the wall, "I supposed we'll have to put up another map, because Bai might be the biggest rish in the lake right now, but he isn't the only one biting."

Jun's warnings had turned to similar tones, target fixation came to mind, "I've heard as much. You're right, and Liang's letter here is a good example." They'd put another map up on a corkboard and wheels. "He's given us a list of towns, and it won't be hard finding which ones produce what, but really its that they're productive that's the reason." With politics in Peking shaping up it was looking more and more like Yuan was going to throw more and more troops to chase after Bai until he got results.
--
Western Zhili had been the place they had moved into officially in 1912, but they would have probably moved out of the concession soon or later. Shijiazhuang had already turned into a bustling railway town by the time they had moved in. They'd had smaller offices in the town for a few years by that point dealing with railway business and particularly western expansion but the move out of the concession had been a breath of fresh air.

The corporate headquarters though had finished after three months construction, and connected to the railway to Peking and Hankou directly. The engine workshops were also connected to the main line, but required a cross over. The Belgians who had built Peking-Hankou had used a narrow gauge. That worked fine for passengers, but it wasn't suitable for any thing other than light freight in his opinion. It was why they had ended up running a parallel track to the capital in the much broader track, which then linked to the concessions in Tietsin, and to a few other ports in the east for export of goods from North China.

So really that they had missed the first boom of the town hadn't really hurt them at all. If someone wanted to go all the way south to Kunming, or to French Tonkin they took the meter gauge to Hankou and then followed the same gauge as far south as they wanted. The recent business in Hupeh with Graves's little lordling, and the missionaries was further south than he wanted to go, and their wider gauge tracks didn't run that far.

Not that they had the manpower either. On paper the 6th​ Division like every other Beiyang 'new model' army division was supposed to be about twelve thousand men. While he was sure some had atritt-ed down to nine or ten thousand men that was still a respectable number. For themselves, Brigade was more accurate than division... Infantry battalions with artillery, and nothing in the way of cavalry. Shinnozaki's return though was... unusual. The documents he was carrying from Yamagata suggested the old man wasn't happy with Hayashi. It was no secret Hayashi had powerful friends within Hirobumi's still thriving political party. The problem was in how Japan's political parties were getting to be. He'd found it rather easy to keep track of the army's cliques back when they'd been based off of samurai from this domain or that, and their supporters, but that been fading even as he had gotten used to it.

Hayashi had probably acted on his own though. "You sure?" Bill asked.

"Its not the first time he's done this. Hayashi is a son of a bitch, but he knows how to recruit people,"

"You still thinking Tietsin was him?"

"Yeah," It had been a couple months now, and they had investigated, but nothing had turned up. Shinnozaki had confirmed that the Kenpeitai had investigated and given those involved a verbal chastising for causing trouble but next to nothing had been written down. "I know Shinnozaki is working under Akashi who is still in Korea who is taking orders from Yamagata, which suggests there is trouble in Tokyo." The lack of written material from the Kenpeitai ... given how much they liked to write things down... was proof enough of that.

"You think they'll try again?"

Who could say? "Maybe, no way to be sure."

"Did you tell Shinnozaki about what your daddy told you about the Russians?"

Allen grimaced... "I haven't had any cause to read the Russian's mail truth be told. But I know Japan is interested in the iron mining and," iron, steel, "working in Hankou, I also might have given him what we had on the French to do with what he wants." Part of that though... most of it, really was just the mess that was Shanghai. Hankou, and Shanghai both had plenty of revolutionary shop talk and maybe the French believed it, or we just egging it on to take advantage, but it didn't really matter. "So Liu is going to Hartford?"

"For the tooling. Yeah, but he's going to tour the states while he is there." Bill replied easing into the change of subject. "Its a semi automatic rifle. It'll be in eight millimeter mauser. Cole doesn't sound too impressed by it."

"He wasn't too impressed by Mondragon's rifle either."

"Yeah, well we talked about that. Risk of the gun being finicky with ammo an' all. Cole said there was no way you'd be able to get the gun to run right shooting black powder loads. I think the only thing Cole likes about Mondragon's rifle was the original cartridge idea. Him, and Phillips both think a smaller lighter bullet would be better." Phillips had been the one who had converted Cole's rifle to firing a spitzer bullet so it wasn't surprising how he felt. "Liu's gonna stay in the states a year or two, do the work there once Hartford has his tooling. Then come back." Bill glanced to the skyline, "Do you wann'ta talk about the manpower situation?" The texan drawled.

They were talking about it in committee as it was. "Its the two thousand second Reserves I'm worried about." They needed them. He certainly wasn't going to pretend otherwise, "Its arming them I'm worried about. Cole still has some of his corporals with rolling blocks." Which was something that had to be getting around he thought, and the reasoning of logistics was not going to make much of impact... and there had only been two hundred Remington Lees. "We're going to have to arm those new troops finishing as well." If anything it would be the second regiment that needed the most standard equipment possible they were the troops who had the most comprehensive military training. It left him in decidedly uncomfortable position not to be able to provide the standardization.

The problem was that any further expansion of the corporation was dependent now on protection capability over a larger geographic area. They might have been able to swing a small geographic expansion, but the existing plurality holding up committee talk were right Allen knew that. Bai was running amok, running circles around everyone when it came to navigating the countryside, and he wasn't the only bandit in North China... and they were going into winter.

If Bai had lost any troops to them needing to back home for harvest time he had probably regained them... and as poor as the 1913 growing season had been reported there were doubts many people had much in the way of crops to take in anyway... well Bai's numbers might very well be at an all time high amongst his various sub commanders.

"Not to put too fine of a point Al, but old Yuan is giving the military governors he's been putting in a whole lot of leeway. Ponytail got free reign in Nanking, and well... Hayashi swore up a storm, over what was probably nothing when you got down to it."

The Japanese Embassy's complaining about 'disrespect' shown to their nationals, and flag in Nanking had come off as pretty ridiculous, and Hayashi was probably using it as an excuse, but there was absolutely nothing they could do about that. "Hayashi could have organized a provocation and there would be nothing we could do, he did it enough in Joseon... and the French could very well do it in Hankou, or Yunnan. The Russians up north for that matter." He doubted the Brits would do it, if only because Yuan had already conceded out Mongolia, and Tibet issues... but there was still the Missionary problem.
 
Late October 1913
Late October 1913
Allen thought about Jordan's letter as he took a seat in the domain of the chief tinkerer amongst them. Of that letter, he was mindful of the fact that Jordan, or someone back in London, had made the decision to get out of Joseon in 1905. A decision that had probably impacted the decision to follow in like manner by the US legation.

Yuan had secured, if with a little bit of strong arming another five year term as president. All of that was well and good. Allen didn't truthfully give a good god damn right now. The legations were making the expected noises about how they weren't necessarily happy about that kind of 'uncouthness' as Jordan had called it. The French were being particularly loud, but that was normal they were probably the most favorable to the farthest left positions down south, and the least effected by the mess, but he suspected even they were worried about Hankow.

Their own committee was currently in recess. There been a veritable shoving match over whether or not Yuan would be able to meaningfully keep Bai from causing trouble. Apparently he hadn't been the only person to get a letter from Liang about dynamite and railways.

General consensus was that they had a manpower pool of about ten thousand men able bodied, fit for service, and who would be able to learn what all they needed to learn in the period of time set up. Given more time, time they weren't convinced was really there, more volunteers might meet muster... but it was what they had now. Except that that body of men wasn't something they really had right now. They had the pool, but not all of them were trained, never mind equipped... and hence the wrestling.

So they were in recess till the tempers cooled. That might be a while.

He was sitting in Griswold's workshop. "Does it work?"

"With good ammo... yes. Is it practical? Hell No."

"Thats a no, then." He replied.

Without acknowledging the dry response he continued, "I took the model 8." Griswold nodded, and gestured to one of his own rifles on the wall, that he had retrofitted with some of his improvements. "Basically took that one, and scaled it up. Its a long recoil 8mm Mauser." He went on to describe it as the sort of thing that he had half expected to see come out of Paul Mauser's business, "For you or Bill the recoil wouldn't be an issue standing, but can't imagine most people would do much shooting against that kick. Never mind the field conditions, or that manufacture would be prohibitive. Its a dead end."

He picked up the prototype. "How much is this?"

"Price or weight?"

"It doesn't weigh much more than my gewehr." Without the scope admittedly.

Griswold grimaced. "Its about a pound heavier than the 98. I was worried if shaved any more weight off I'd have more problems." He leaned back, and a brief side bar over seven mauser concluded that, "Its a dead end," and that clearly was something infuriating the other man. "Besides I need the machinists, and tinkerers at work on Lewis's line, and for that matter now that most of our Madsens are in the shop."

"How are the artillery?"

In lieu of answering Griswold turned and began to rifle through his desk. He came out with print outs from his type writer that had probably been intended for the morning's committee hearing ... before it had been abruptly adjourned. "The big boys are fine. As a precaution I did replace their recoil springs with stronger ones. They're testing well. I even hooked one to that Italian tractor of yours and moved it around the field."

"You did what?"

Griswold waved him off, "Oh it didn't hurt nothing." He shook his head, "That worked pretty well, actually. Anyway. Artillery, including machine guns we have right at forty. We've got the big boys forming the heavy battery now. We've got our three batteries of Three inchers. Even if we could talk some Vickers off of Percy, given the Lewis situation I wouldn't want the hassle of trying to convert them to eight mill. Production of the Lewis is going to take time though. I don't think some of our inventory will last that long. I'm going to have to spend Christmas rebuilding potato diggers with the rate we're shooting them." Griswold had rebuilt them once into Mauser last year, but at thirty odd pounds they were relatively maneuverable. It certainly beat the hell out of the water cooled Maxims. "But moving 'em is beating them to shit."

Allen took the sheet as it was handed over, and scanned it. "Cole's got basically all the seven guns now." Those companies at least simplified some of the logistical burden, but it still wasn't a great situation to be in. "I need him here, otherwise yeah It'd make great sense to post him out west. How do you feel about me posting Simmons or Phillip's companies when they're ready out west?"

Griswold took the paper back and shrugged, "You mean Xian, its not a bad idea. The Ready Guards won't be 'ready' for a couple months." Maybe not even until spring proper. "I would like to say I'd have 98 Rifles for all of them by then, but-"

He interrupted, "What would you need to make sure they all have standard rifles?"

"John Allen there is too much else to do, to much to be sure I'd be able to get it done. If those Lees hadn't been available I know I wouldn't be able to do it."

Part of that was the problem of the last ten months, but some of it was older. The Qing hadn't been financially solvent to begin with... hence the problem with the railways down south. The Qing had decided to stick to their version of the Commission Rifle, what everyone generally called the Gewehr, or sometimes if not entirely accurately Mauser, 88, and continue to buy those from Germany to make up for deficits in production. The Qing court had wanted newer rifles. The various provincial governors, and different military commands, especially the Beiyang, had wanted more modern weapons. The money just hadn't been there were anything more than piecemeal buys. The sort of buying that drove up cost per unit.

The finances of the Republic were worse still. He would have liked to have been able to say that that wasn't the case, but it certainly was. Yuan was making reforms, but in hindsight it had been obvious that the Republic wouldn't be in any shape to adopt the 98 financially en masse. A Beiyang unit here or there? Sure. "What can we do to simplify the 98?"

"Changes to the stock, and sight mostly." The simple truth was seasoning the wood was an extravagance, and finding the right quality wood, and aging was expensive. "We could stick with a straight bolt handle, but that won't be popular."

No it wouldn't have. It would have been different if they'd been building them for someone who wanted straight pulls, but the cadre was all American. Everyone pretty much universally felt the turned down bolt of the Krag, or Springfield was preferable. "We need to change the sights anyway."

"Yeah, I know."

"The Germans never bothered with a magazine cut off in the 98 so there's not one of those to get rid of," Griswold grunted. "Its mainly the stock. John Paul," The Cedar half of the Arsenal's name, though JP had selected it also to make a local pun, "has his pyrometers installed finally which will mean barrel production in general should be a lot more reliable. That'll save time and money, especially with expansion."
--

Commentary: So the 'first' story in this universe i.e. The original cyoa prompt and what have you takes place several years in the future, and quite frankly this story should focus more on the railway and industrial business going on. It should focus more on the politics in 1913, and how much of it really grew out of things like not just the Boxer Rebellion, but also Japan's actions in Korea going back to the first sino japanese war, but also the Russo-Japanese war effects, and the comparatively more recent actions of Japan in 1910.

In particular Yuan Shikai in the first story's opening post is already dead, (being 1915, post National Protection War), here 1913 he's still alive. He, British minister John Jordan, and Liang (Yuan's banker, who we really won't see much of) had all known each other in Korea prior to the first sino japanese war likely through dinner parties rather than official diplomatic channels. (Liang was an avid socialite, and was part of a growing Chinese elite who were against the traditional seclusion practiced by the ruling Manchu, and the manchu elite did adopt to more western style dinner parties but it really only caught on after Cici's death, for well predictable reasons.)

As for the rifle, I am legitimately surprised that Paul Mauser never released a long recoil 8mm Mauser design based on the Model 8, or based on its principles. The French made a full power semi automatic rifle based off of the Browning patents of the model 8 (or more likely the European version the FN 1900 rifle patents), but that was ungodly expensive rifle and it went no where. Semi automatic full power rifles were certainly possible, and a number existed, but production expense and reliability were the main hang up that made them impractical even though again the French were already looking forward (even though they didn't have the money for it, more correctly the French government didn't want to spend the money) at well we want a semi automatic rifle, but that wouldn't happen until much later. Basically expense was the main preventer of early adoption of a semi automatic general service rifle.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Back
Top