Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Sudden Short Story 45

The lights burned brightly in the war room, for that only so much fuel could be carried.  The looks around the room were grim, though one alone, beneath a many-patterned cloak, had particular intent to it.  Finally, the silence was broken.  
"Even with the elves on our side, we've only been able to slow them down.  The elimination of the gnomes gave them the Alps, and they'll have Europe in half before we know it," said one in frustration.  
A second started:  "We still have the North Sea.  If the jotun can keep the Baltic secure, then we'll never lose the east, or our connection--"
"The jotun are losing on the eastern front!" interrupted a third.  "If we can't get Loki manifest, then that damned witch will have us for sure!"  
The man with the patterned cloak continued to stare grimly at the map. Finally, he spoke.  "We have to retreat."  
"We can't afford to retreat!" cried the third.  "If we give up Iberia, then they'll march right on up to the isles, and we'll lose Gibraltar and our main foothold on the Mediterranean."  
The cloaked man walked over to a book shelf and retrieved a red-bound tome.  He opened it, to reveal a key stored inside.  "Send half of our supply ships up the eastern coast of Britain, through the North sea, to land north of Hadrian's Wall."  He moved a tapestry aside, revealing a metal section with a key-hole in it.  
There was surprise, but a fourth man chimed in:  "I don't know what you've been holding out on us, but we won't be able to mount a counter-offensive from the highlands on the scale that we need."  
The cloaked man retrieved a map from the wall-hole and unfurled it on the table.  "That's a distraction, actually.  We send word to Erin to build a fleet of the most sea-worthy vessels possible.  The rest of our supply ships will sail up the sea, so as to avoid giving away our plans."  He pointed to the Irish Sea, now dwarfed by the enormity of a world-spanning map.  The rest stood in stunned silence.  
"From Erin, we sail across the northern Atlantic," he said, tracing across the map with a finger, "being careful to remain northward until we reach the eastern coast of this continent, which, in my world, was called 'North America'.  The other one is called 'South America'.  It's very creative, I know.  From there, we sail southward, around the Florida peninsula, toward the Mississippi.  We'll have to forego our ships at the delta, but that will get us as close as possible to the Ozarks, which are our final destination in this world.  Any questions?"  
"I have three," said the fourth.  "First of all, why do we need to go to these Ozarks?"  
"That's the second-closest ley line intersection capable of handling a transit of the required capacity.  The first is Aleppo."  
"Fair enough.  Secondly, though, when were you planning to tell us about this?" he said, waving his hands widely across the two new continents on the new map.  
"Originally, never.  There are many risks to this plan.  The only reason why anyone should be willing to undertake it is due to desperation here.  We don't know the political situation in the Americas, or whether they've already been invaded.  Besides, this is a retreat.  I was hoping to stop this horror here.  What's your third question?"  
"How do you even know that these continents exist in our world?" he asked, pointedly.  
"There are several reasons, but I'll give you the most direct.  I came here through a geomantic invocation.  For the one that I used to work, the ley lines had to be identical between the two worlds, which means that the key points had to be so, too."  
"So you're planning to recruit these Amerikese and launch a counter-offensive from there?" asked the second man.  
"'Americans', and no.  When I said that I was hoping to stop it here, I wasn't referring to Europe.  Unless the natives have unlocked some immense power while remaining isolated, they're not going to be a match for a force that controls Eurasia, Africa, and perhaps Australia.  We'll have to move on to another world, though that itself is a gamble.  As we go, the best that I can do is force our enemy to follow.  If you have a better plan, then, for the sake of everything, please tell me now."  

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