Heavy Steam: The Longest Night

The tension in the room was palpable.

The power struggle had been going on for decades, before any of the leaders in the room had been alive. Once long ago, France and England had fought for superiority through colonization; as each amassed more land they had more power. Everything changed with The Great Blight, a meteor that hit North America during the start of the American Revolution with enough force to scourge the land. The rippling effects shrouded the planet in darkness. These two great powers were thrown into chaos.

From the wreckage of what was once a beautiful continent came stories of horror… but also a cache of zenjin- so named by DaVinci during his experiments with the exotic stone found in small pockets all over Asia. This wondrous compound could be used as a cleaner more efficient fuel or tempered with metals to make materials stronger than steel. England saw this as its opportunity to rise from the ashes. It began testing and refining the use of zenjin for the purpose of becoming the great nation it once was. Re-shifting focus meant aligning themselves with their former colonies and conquered lands in a more diplomatic and commercially beneficial manner. Thus the UK Alliance was formed. Many of the countries of Europe were approached to join this group. Some politely declined…others were less diplomatic. Of those in the latter category, France was seen as the greatest threat.

The alliance used its wide-spread resources to begin building a mechanized man, taller than a giant, and more powerful than any weapon ever dreamed of. The great hope was that one day this mech would help prevent any non-allied countries from invading England.

Then, over forty years ago rumors began that France had prioritized their mechanical weapons’ program. The UK Alliance, working on their own “Stewpots” as they were affectionately called, were not in a position to force France to stop. This uneasy dance around each other escalated when the technological know-how of France and mechanical application of Germany combined forces as the Central Europe Trust. The UK Alliance realised immediately that the C.E.T. also intended to make an automated vehicular assault weapons of superior firepower and incredible strength.

Still the peace held even when Glasgow University hawas leveled by “The Hideous Monster of the Mist.” This location had been the hub of all the UK Alliance’s new technology. It’s true purpose was known only by the scientists who worked there, the spy who had relayed the information and had met her untimely demise for it, and a handful of leaders.  Its destruction forced the UK Alliance to make The Great Reveal.  When the mechs of the UK became public knowledge, there was an immediate outcry for attack against the mainland. This pressure only subsided with the naval encounter that left both sides bereft of one of their Steam Titans and the brave men and women who piloted them. In the backlash of sentiment, both sides agreed to a peace treatise. Once it was signed, the silent struggle began anew.

From that moment on, when each new facet of their power struggle revealed itself, they quietly gathered information, stockpiled their engineering feats of wonder, and bided their time until they were sure of victory.

Time had run out.

Since the General’s spies had learned of the C.E.T.’snew schematic, the countdown to war was inevitable.

“We need to take action!” said General Stuffit. “Our moment has come! Dash it all, our moment has past, and we may be too late!”

“You have no way of knowing that!” replied Colonel Snidely. “We haven’t verification on these builds coming to fruition. For all we know the information was false in the first place!”

“You ignorant pup. You have enjoyed the fruits of our hard-won peace all these years and have never cut your teeth in real battle. How can one expect you to understand that this kind of thing takes action! Swift decisive action!”

A calm voice cut through the debate: “We cannot move without knowing where the Titans are located. And make no mistake Colonel, they do exist. We wait to make the precision attack of a surgeon rather than the sweeping attack of a brawler at the local gentlemen’s club. If we can eliminate their power source, we will win the war in a fortnight. Otherwise….” and General Smith lapsed into silence. The room collectively contemplated the toll of a long war, and the tension resumed.

They heard the clicking of footsteps at the end of the hall. As gentlemen it was unseemly to rush to meet them, but several stood and braced for the news.

The messenger burst in through the heavy oak doors. His composure shot, and in a most ungentlemanly fashion he burst out, “It is true! All of it! Our informant died in the attempt to give me the proof, but proof we have! They’ve done it. They’ve successfully tested the German Heavy Mech and are assembling several and readying for attack! God have mercy on us!”

“How long until it’s ready?” asked General Smith.

“One month. Two if there are setbacks, Sir.”

“There won’t be setbacks. They have been planning this moment since I was a much younger man. We can strike now or we can have blood on English soil before summer arrives.”

The leaders of a great nation stared into the uncertain abyss in an uncomfortable silence.

“Gentlemen, it has begun. Tomorrow we go to war.”

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