|The World War
by Dave J. Putnam
The World War
by Martin Zucker
Paperback: 402 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.85 x 9.02 x 5.84
The World War is the second novel in Dave Putnam’s riveting Gamekeeper Trilogy. We find Britain entering the twentieth century by attacking Germany, Russia, and every other despotic regime, sparking a global conflagration, and, perhaps, biting off more than it can chew.
As the world goes up in flames, the pace of technological advance quickens. World War I technology morphs into World War II technology, but with a twist: Animals armed with unique weapons fight alongside panzers and submarines.
From the ashes of the World War, this alternate history timeline continues to diverge from our reality. Fascism does not emerge in Europe, communism becomes a more potent force than anyone can imagine, and humanity enters a strange, new world.
Pricing and more information
Chapter 1 of The World War follows:
Queen Victoria looked at the map of the Western front one last time, scowling at the intractable trench lines, sick of their unchanging nature. A year of war had passed. Not one trench had moved east more than two hundred yards in the past three hundred days of fighting. There was nothing that Victoria could do to break the deadlock. No, she thought, I am altogether through with war, for the next two months anyway. She bid her staff officers good-bye and signaled for baggage handlers to load the royal carriage. The Queen’s hand hovered in front of General Kitchener’s face. He kneeled and kissed the white velvet of her glove.
Kitchener stood fully upright. Still holding her hand and looking down on the diminutive Monarch, he said, “Your Majesty’s martial leadership has been that of a lioness heading a noble pride. Your courage calls to mind Queen Boadicea’s rebellion against the Romans two thousand years ago. High command will sorely miss the Royal Personage for the next two months.”
The white velvet hand jerked out of his grasp. Kitchener straightened to attention. I’ve offended the old battle-ax, he thought in horror. The Queen’s eyeballs quivered angrily. Her voice wavered in a furious tempo that matched her bouncing eyeballs. “Queen Boadicea’s revolt against Rome failed. Is there a suggestion that Germany will invade Great Britain and We will fail to repel the conquering army?”
“Of course not, Your Highness,” Kitchener cried in anguish. Jesus Christ on a crutch, why am I shoved through the meat grinder every time that she leaves on a trip? He stepped backward and bowed. “The war is in hand. The stalemate is being dealt with, as Your Highness well knows. My plan to increase war tunnel construction one hundred fold shall result in a blow that opens a series of mile-wide holes in the German trenches. There are ample reserves, trained and ready, to exploit the breaches. The Reich shall be rolled up like an old carpet.”
From long experience, Kitchener knew that his timing had to be perfect to handle the Queen. He judged that the moment had arrived to ask for an order. If she went for the bait, then Victoria would forget his ill-advised reference to Queen Boadicea. He swallowed hard and said, “If the army succeeds in breaking through, should I contact Your Majesty at Chadwick House?”
“No, contact Us if German troops land on English beaches: for that and nothing else. If Germany overruns France, then say nothing. We shall be contemplating the question of royal succession. Disturb us for nothing less.” The Royal Personage’s edged tongue was willing to seek blood this evening.
Kitchener snapped back to attention, clicking his heels so that every other officer in the war room also stood ramrod straight, mustaches quivering on stiff upper lips. The dull hum of a room full of working staff officers became so quiet that a drop from the proverbial pin could have been heard. The supreme commander of the Allied forces spoke into the silence. “Not only shall there be no German invasion during the eight weeks of Her Majesty’s stay at Chadwick House, in point of fact Germany will be invaded, not Britain. I shall refrain from telephoning Chadwick House in the event of a push into Germany if Your Majesty has more important matters to contemplate. Very good.”
The two Gurkha guards materialized at her side. The Queen glared at the entire room. Her eyes lit on each officer for a brief moment. Victoria’s voice was raised to a near shout, speaking to everyone present. “Yes, indeed, do not concern yourselves with contacting Us. Concern yourselves with breaking Germany.” The Gurkhas and the Queen swept out of the war room, out of the building, and into the royal carriage.
The carriage was hitched to a brace of Morgan stallions, imported from America. The Queen sat in the driver’s seat. The Gurkhas sat on either side of the Queen, close enough to touch. “The Morgan horse is stronger, more durable, and eats less hay than our native species,” she said to her bodyguards. She gestured at the two coach horses. “Amazing: the beasts are asleep! That’s one of their secrets, always conserving energy. Wonderful. Let Us wake them.” The bodyguards could tell by her rapid mood shift that the Queen had only been playacting in front of her general staff. Therefore it was safe to let her drive. If she were genuinely angry, then the citizenry of London would be at risk, not to mention the Queen, due to her reckless driving.
She flicked the reins. The stallions opened their eyes with deceptive laziness. Victoria clucked her tongue and drove them into the sparse traffic of Whitehall. A few minutes later, the horses were clip clopping across London Bridge to a railhead where Victoria’s private train awaited. After being pulled to a halt, the Morgans stomped hooves and whinnied to get into the stable car. The horses knew that hay, water, and oats had been laid out in their rolling stalls.
A squad of household cavalry saw to the coach horses and rolled the royal carriage into a compartment inside a coal car. The Gurkhas helped Victoria climb the stairs of her private passenger car. Exhausted, she went straight to her favorite couch. Contoured and cushioned surfaces cradled her aging body in all the right places. Her pug dog, Alfred, was waiting in the passenger car. Alfred jumped onto the couch and curled into a ball next to Victoria. The rocking of the train and the softness of her couch sent the Monarch and her lap dog into a deep and peaceful slumber.
The senior Gurkha bodyguard decided that the rocking motion of the train and the clickety-clack of rails were acting as a royal soporific. She hadn’t slept this soundly in weeks. He crossed to the front of the car and tapped a telegraph message to the locomotive three cars up, informing the chief engineer that Victoria was asleep due to the motion of the train. The trip to Chadwick House must take eight hours, rather than two. The rail line had been cleared of all ordinary traffic, so there should be no problem with the request. The telegraph key clattered softly in reply. The Gurkha’s request was to be obeyed. The train slowed, rocking like a lullaby.
The junior Gurkha loosened Victoria’s clothing and untied her shoes, but did not strip her or put her in a sleeping gown. He wasn’t reluctant to see his Liege naked (an everyday occurrence), but was loath to interrupt her slumber. She was beginning to twitch, a sign of dreaming. The two Gurkhas stood over the twitching Queen and watched her sleep for several seconds with a sense of satisfaction. They then grabbed light machineguns and assumed their posts.
The royal train hit a long stretch of straight track. It settled into a comforting rhythm at the reduced speed. The Queen descended into a strange, yet familiar, dreamland, a place she’d been before, but never with such vivid intensity. In her dream she stood on a glen at the edge of a dark forest. Alfred, the twenty-pound pug dog, had grown into a two-hundred-pound Wolfhound wearing a spiked war harness. The Wolfhound nuzzled her in a way that made it clear that he was still Alfred. She lifted her eyes away from the amazing canine to marvel at a primeval forest. Gnarled trees blew against a sky of warring storm clouds. Rough fabrics chafed Victoria’s tender skin. She looked at her clothing. Silk and cashmere had given way to coarse homespun garments. A panoply of iron body armor covered her midsection, arms, and legs.
The Queen took off an iron helmet. She held it in her hands and studied the skillfully crafted piece. Two sections of iron had been beaten and riveted into a graceful form. The hammered peak along the sagittal crest gave it the shape of a gorilla’s skull. She put the helmet back on her head to examine the iron gauntlets covering her hands. As if by their own accord, the iron gloves flew to the handle of a long broadsword swinging from her waist. She pulled a blisteringly bright steel sword into the murky sunlight. Lightning flashed from one storm cloud to another. The blade in her hands blazed in response. She caught a reflection of herself in the polished surface of the sword. Victoria was wearing blue war paint on her face.
“Ach, ye’ve to kill quick. Ye’ve drawn yer blade. Ye canna sheath it til someit dies. Ruin the blade otherwise,” a feminine voice called from the forest. A tall woman, close to six feet, strode from the black woodland. In measured strides the giantess crossed the glade, giving Victoria time to take the newcomer’s measure. Alfred barked joyfully as the strange woman got closer.
“My name is Queen Boadicea. Yer me great-granddaughter years from now. I’m here to offer ye a wee pinch of advice, youngster.” Boadicea wore tailored bearskin pants and a matching tunic under her beaten iron body armor. Gold jewelry clanked under the iron armor. The crest of Boadicea’s helmet was trimmed in gold. The two-thousand-year-old Queen took off her helmet, revealing a long, flowing mane of red hair and a youthful face. She was beautiful in a statuesque way that Victoria could only envy.
“Why are We wearing the peasant garb of a mere foot soldier? We are the Queen of England,” Victoria complained. She couldn’t change herself into a statuesque beauty, but she could wear finer clothes.
Red hair swirled as Boadicea shook her head. “Think again, sweetheart. I’m the Queen. Yer a lost soul drifted in from the future, one o’ me countless descendants. Wait! Don’t sheath ’at sword!” Victoria had made a motion to put the heavy blade back in its scabbard. Boadicea gripped the smaller woman’s sword hand, aborting the gesture. Her iron gauntlet jingled as the ancient warrior Queen drew her own sword. “Canna sheath ’em without a taste o’ life blood. Ruins the blade. We’ll both do a spot o’ killin’. It’ll be fine sport.”
Boadicea whistled at Alfred. The Wolfhound left Victoria’s side and trotted in front of the warrior Queen. “Find wolves,” she commanded. The dog ambled to the head of a deer trail, a few yards away. He barked three times. Three Wolfhound bitches glided into the glade from the wooded interior. They wore spiked collars without the body armor of the male dog, and this made them lighter, better able to run down wolves. Alfred was dressed to kill, not hunt.
The dogs caught a faint whiff of their timeless enemy, gave their handlers imploring looks, and stalked silently into the forest, clearly indicating that the two women must fall in line for a lengthy journey if wolves were to be garnered.
“We’re off on a bloody wolf hunt? Great-Grandmother, please, what advice do you have for a future Queen?” Victoria asked her distant ancestor. The warrior Queen smiled indulgently while walking at double-time speed to keep up with the Wolfhounds. “I weren’t the one to take out me sword for no reason. Kill the wolf, then advice,” Boadicea said uncompromisingly. Victoria hurried to keep from being left behind. After running a few steps, the nineteenth-century Queen was delighted to find that she had a 19-year-old body. Her right hand fell to her waist. It was tiny. Her body didn’t have an extra ounce of fat. She swung into a slow jog behind the warrior Queen, tossing her sword from hand to hand every few hundred years to keep her grip from cramping. Miles of black forest flew by, and Victoria wasn’t even breathing hard.
Boadicea raised an iron fist. The two women stopped dead in their tracks. The snarling symphony of a dogfight sounded close by. The warrior Queen blasted a piercing whistle into the wilderness. The snarling stopped, replaced by the rapid rustle of canines chasing through heavy underbrush.
“Ready yer sword, Victoria Regina. ’Ere he is!”
Gray dappled fur, slashing fangs, and scrambling claws: the wolf hunt exploded around Victoria like confused images from a kaleidoscope. A pointy-eared canine demon leaped for her throat. She swung the blade hard, lopping off the vile creature’s head in a single stroke. She stood panting for a minute, hardly believing her own strength. She leaned over the lupine carcass and stropped her blade clean on its flanks.
Boadicea plunged her blade into the wolf’s body, cleaned it, and returned it to the scabbard. The warrior Queen cracked her knuckles before saying, “Ready for me timeless counsel, Granddaughter?” Victoria could only lift her head up and down dumbly. “Great, Great, Great, Great-Granddaughter, this much advice I give: Do not permit the Germans to build villages, have children, and live for generations over Britons after they invade and occupy yer land. Rome occupied the island a piece at a time. Took generations for ’em to push up to Scotland.”
“Germany will not set troops on British soil. We will not listen to rubbish. Britain is on the verge of crushing Germany like a cockroach,” Victoria said with barely controlled fury.
Boadicea howled in delight, her broad shoulders rising and sinking with each guffaw. She stopped laughing when tears streamed down her face. She wiped the tears and said soberly, “If one stares into the pool at the Oracle of Delphi, one does not throw a stone into said pool. Please don’t contradict yer great-grandmama.”
Victoria’s elfin features went scarlet. “No ghost cannot talk to the reigning Queen of England in that fashion and live to talk about it.” She didn’t care that her sentence contained two glaring contradictions. Her right hand flew to the sword on her hip. Victoria struck a fencing stance, rolling onto the balls of her feet, ready to draw the blade.
“Don’t, or we’ll have to kill another wolf. For certain ye’ll not be killing me. Darling, have a seat. Let me ask questions about Britain in the year 1896.” Boadicea sat on a tree stump. It was wide enough for two. She patted at a spot for Victoria. The Wolfhounds gathered at the feet of the two women, as if they wanted to hear tales from the future. Reluctantly, Victoria sat and gave the warrior Queen permission to ask any question that she wanted.
“The Romans named me Boadicea Victoria; me true name is Boudicca, after the Celtic goddess of victory. How is it, me darling, that yer name is Victoria Regina? ’Tis pure Latin. Does the Roman Emperor still name the Queen of the Iceni, sorry Britons, in 1896, as he does in 63? Are the Roman colonizers still permitted to rape any woman in Britain?” Boadicea grinned as she asked this question, a sign that she was not being entirely serious.
Victoria remonstrated, “Britain’s use of Latin honorifics is nothing. Our next greatest enemy after Germany is Russia, ruled by the Romanov dynasty. They are called Romanov for a reason, tracing their lineage back to the Caesars by way of Constantinople.” The nineteenth-century’s Queen’s face softened. Victoria peeled off iron gauntlets and gently removed Boadicea’s helmet. The warrior Queen’s hair looked like spun gold and copper. Victoria stroked the beautiful hair and murmured, “To say that Germany should not conquer and occupy Britain is no advice. It tells Us nothing.”
Boadicea clasped her descendant’s hands in an iron grip. “Aye, aye, I’m a thick-headed, mulish woman, not a bit o’ delicacy about me. I only want ye to get used to the idea of the Kaiser’s soldiers tramping about in yer green and nubile land. So there’ll be no panic when the jackboot falls.” Now, Boadicea was being serious.
A red hot splash of molten steel washed across Victoria’s soul. Her face went white. Images of gray-clad storm troopers pushing up from the beaches of southeastern England filled her mind’s eye. Boadicea’s iron grip grew tender. The warrior Queen’s large, meaty hands massaged Victoria’s petite ones. Boadicea’s voice held sympathy. “Best feel the shock now, little one. When it happens, ye’ll be ready. Yer train has arrived in Sherwood station. The waking world beckons. I’ll give ye one genuinely oracular piece of advice, me sweet cherub. When storm troopers invade England, remember one word: youth. Youth can save Britain. I would like to chat military strategy, tell ye about me own battles. Alas, there is no time.”
“Just as well, Grandmama. We will not think about military matters until We return to London.”
Victoria opened her eyes. The dreamland was gone. Feeble rays of dawn struggled into the rail car. Outside the car, birds were singing. Inside, water was running in a copper bathtub. The Gurkhas were efficiently performing their morning duties. Her hands flew to her waist. She was fat again. Her chubby little hands folded into fists. She might be fat and old, but she was Queen once more of an empire that consumed more than half the Earth’s land.
Not very many eighty-year-old women could drive a carriage with the skill and strength of the aging Monarch. Victoria imagined that her velvet gloves were made of iron ringlets. She gathered the reins in one hand and grabbed the whip with the other. She tickled the Morgans’ rears. They trotted a shade quicker, but didn’t break into a canter. The green rolling hills were giving way to one of the last great forests in the southern Midlands.
The carriage rolled into the shade of truly ancient trees. A strong sense of déjà vu made her tug on the reins. The horses slowed, stopped, and dropped their heads to crop lush grass on the road’s shoulder. Victoria panned the tree line very slowly. This was Sherwood Forest, the fount of legends involving Robin Hood and his merry men. At one time it had borne a different name, a name so ancient as to be long forgotten. This was where Boadicea’s Iceni army of one hundred thousand had met its destruction at the hands of ten thousand Roman centurions. Here, it had been here, at this very spot. There was no way that she could know that for sure, yet she was certain.
The Romans’ backs were against a wall of trees. The Iceni thought they had the invaders trapped. But peninsular fingers of forest held two hidden Roman cavalry arms. Enemy riders cut the Iceni army in half, and then defeated the halves in detail.
Victoria knew that she would be able to see the battle play itself out if she closed her eyes. Her eyelids drooped, and then flew open. No, We won’t do it! We shan’t think about military matters till We return to London. She clucked the horses into a slow trot. The carriage dipped into a misty valley. Alfred grew chilled and crawled into his mistress’s lap, looking up at her with luminous eyes.
She tried not to think about the battle that had occurred two millennia ago. Alfred kept looking at her strangely. Very well, the Iceni flanks were not protected against cavalry. That was Boadicea’s fatal mistake. Is that what I should be thinking? Be satisfied old hag, I shan’t think of war again for the rest of the trip. The dog looked away. Evidently, the ghost haunting Sherwood Forest was at last appeased.
The Queen harrumphed quietly to herself. Fat lot of good the two-thousand-year-old insight did her. Cavalry was worse than useless in modern trench warfare. Her younger officers were clamoring to decommission all cavalry mounts and turn them into draft horses for hauling field artillery and shells. She imagined that her grandson the Kaiser was hearing the same from his officers.
The carriage pulled out of the misty valley to roll into a broad sunlit pasture crowded with purebred Lincoln sheep. Victoria approved. The long, coarse wool of the Lincolns made the best army uniforms. Everything must be subordinate to the needs of the military, including the civilian desire for fine wool.
A long line of hills was crossed, and the magnificent Chadwick House came into view. The mansion was ringed with fountains. A breeze gusted spray onto gray limestone walls and graceful marble statues, casting a glistening coat that caught the sun like dewdrops in a gossamer web. Emerald green lapped up to the glittering limestone blocks as snugly as the ocean met a beach. Thanks to the Lincoln sheep and a battalion of gardeners, the grounds were manicured to perfection. This was the perfect place to contemplate the question of royal succession.
The mansion drew closer. The Queen’s sunny expression turned cloudy. An olive drab military vehicle was parked inside the main gate. A second look revealed it to be an army staff car, obviously belonging to a high-ranking officer. The army had strict orders to leave her alone during her stay at Chadwick House. It defied comprehension that any officer would have the unmitigated gall to disturb her safe haven!
The distant figure of a man in a khaki uniform approached the vehicle. He opened a passenger door and slipped inside like a thief departing a crime scene. A puff of smoke from the tail pipe indicated that the engine had started. It pulled into the gravel driveway and struck out cross-country. The impertinence! The mysterious officer had violated the Queen’s sanctum and was trying to get away scot-free.
She snapped the reins sharply on the rumps of the two stallions, putting them into a full gallop. She tore off the road, cutting an angle on the fleeing motorcar. The royal carriage bounced jarringly across the rough terrain. The Gurkhas grabbed handrails on either side of the driver’s seat and pushed inward on the Monarch to keep her from flying out of the careening vehicle. Alfred crawled under the driver’s seat for the same reason.
With the clever angle she’d taken, it was debatable whether the military vehicle could have outrun the carriage. The point became moot when the staff car put on the brakes, surrendering rather than fleeing. The horses were lathered and blowing like a blacksmith’s bellows by the time the mysterious officer had brought his car fully to heel.
Victoria leaped to the ground and strode briskly toward the staff car. The Gurkhas and Alfred scrambled to get in front of her. Monarch, bodyguards, and lap dog piled into the automobile as if they were raiding a German trench. The Gurkhas unsheathed kukrit knives. Curved blades were held to the throat of a suddenly terrified colonel wearing the emblem of the inspector general’s office. Alfred growled savagely and made ready to bite the unfortunate officer’s leg.
“Cease and desist!” Victoria commanded. “This is R. H. Voss, the new inspector general.” The Gurkhas ran their blades across their own forearms before sheathing them. Unlike the ancient Celts, the custom of the Nepalese warriors was to only draw blood, not kill, if a blade was drawn. They sat there stoically, oblivious to self-inflicted wounds, bleeding on the car’s floorboards. Alfred’s pendulous lips slid back down the length of his stout little fangs. Voss inched his leg away from the dog.
“Mr. Voss, why the colonel’s uniform? Does memory serve Us? Or did the promotion to inspector general fall through? Perhaps there was a scandal? Caught in bed with a harlot?” the Queen chided. Voss removed a monocle from his left eye, slowly polished it with a linen cloth, and pulled a small box of snuff from a waistcoat pocket while giving the monarch an inquiring look. She nodded once, granting permission for a snort of tobacco, guessing that he needed a tonic to brace his nerves.
Voss blinked rapidly after the nicotine took effect. Regaining his wits, he offered Victoria a ritual prostration. She waited for him to finish before reasking her questions. Voss sputtered, “Uniform? Insignia? I haven’t time to waste on trivia. Yes, I am inspector general. I have secluded myself in this sanctuary, Chadwick House, in order to design a single accounting system for the whole of Her Majesty’s armed forces. Hundreds of overlapping systems must be replaced. Wars are won and lost on logistics.”
The Queen scrunched her face skeptically. “Indeed, logistics. Counting beans and bullets. A rather plebian concern, what? Hardly a war-winning pursuit.” Not waiting for an answer, the Queen turned to the junior Gurkha, instructing him to drive her horses to the Chadwick stables. She further instructed that stable hands must rub down, currycomb, feed, water, and clean the hooves of the royal horses. The junior Gurkha must inspect hay and oats before they were thrown into mangers. He knew all this, of course. Still, it paid to remind him. She thought of something else. Voss’s driver should be sent away if a frank discussion was to be held. She told the man to walk back to the manor house and tell Lord and Lady Chadwick to have dinner prepared and laid out by eight this evening. It didn’t occur to Victoria that Voss’s driver could ride in her carriage next to the junior Gurkha. Nobody dared make the suggestion.
Servants dealt with, Victoria’s attention returned to Voss. She demanded to know why military accounting and logistics could possibly be held in such esteem, adding, “General Kitchener claims that moral superiority wins a war, especially a trench war, where men stand toe to toe and slaughter each other wholesale.”
Voss placed his monocle back in his left eye, exhaled in noisy exasperation, and countered with, “General Kitchener is moving two hundred thousand miners to the Western front. Will there be enough shovels, pickaxes, explosives, heavy mining gear, spare boots, extra uniforms, food, and water waiting for them? Will there be enough rolling stock to haul dirt away to rear areas where the German can’t see it? Will this massive influx of men and materiel disrupt ongoing supply efforts?”
Inspector General Voss went on and on, giving an increasingly detailed analysis of the problems that his department faced, and the solutions that he intended to cram down the throats of the military establishment and the private contractors in its pay. Victoria listened in rapt attention. Her craving for isolation from all matters military crumbled as Voss continued speaking.
Voss’s torrent of words slackened. The Queen looked out of a bulletproof window. Herds of sheep were grazing on the undulating green plain. Shepherd boys and sheepdogs were chivying their charges into pens. The Lincolns were heavy with wool. It must be shearing time. Her eyes slid surreptitiously to Voss. He was observing the herding activities, probably calculating the number of uniforms that could be made from the Chadwick flocks, deciding whether this was the best use for the land. It occurred to Victoria that land this rich and well watered was wasted on sheep production. A much better use would be to grow row crops. The Chadwicks kept sheep to maintain their property as one giant manicured lawn, not for hard economic reasons. This estate was really a five-thousand-acre garden, an extravagance, considering the fact that the empire faced the most implacable foe in all of history. She was sure that one of the reasons that Voss was here was to commandeer the Chadwick Estate for the war effort. If anyone had a scheming mind, it was Inspector General Voss. He reminded her of young Churchill, who was formidable indeed. Perhaps she could use Voss as a sounding board.
The Queen was uncharacteristically hesitant as she said, “At Our age, the question of succession is paramount.” She stopped in mid-sentence, wondering whether any commoner, even the nimble-minded Voss, could grasp the complexities of royal politics. He bore out her misgivings by replying with apparently unrelated military ideas: “Britain has conquered roughly 1 percent of Germany to date. The conquered territory does not exactly heave with rebellion, yet it requires an inordinate number of troops to maintain the occupation. I do believe that Kitchener’s tunneling campaign will engineer a breakthrough very soon. Suppose the whole of central Europe, Turkey, and the Levant are overrun and occupied. Even tapping all colonial resources, even if America joins the war, there will not be enough troops to invade and occupy the giant of the north: Russia.”
Victoria’s nostrils flared angrily. Voss was going to make a plea for his department! He was going to demand more auditors, money, and resources for his pencil-pushing bean counters. This was why the man was holed up in Chadwick House: to bend her ear for his little bureaucratic fiefdom. The senior Gurkha sensed the depth of her anger. His hand fell on the hilt of his kukrit knife.
With no small amount of alarm, Voss got to the point. “The next King of England should be Kaiser Wilhelm. Defeat Germany. Put the Kaiser on the throne. Reinstate the freely elected Reichstag with Bismarck as chancellor. Then there will be no need to occupy the central powers. In fact, Germany and its puppet, Austria-Hungary, can be tapped for armies to conquer Russia. Turkey will be sidelined.”
To call Voss’s advice breathtakingly audacious was an understatement. In truth, it was bodacious. Victoria smiled, recalling the etymology of the word. Bodacious came from Queen Boadicea. Whether bodacious or audacious, the advice was impractical. What of her own mortality? She didn’t have that long to live, and if Britain conquered two hundred yards every year, then it would take forever to reach Berlin.
“And if We die before Germany’s defeat?” the Queen demanded.
“Not a concern, Madam. Providence will not countenance such a calamity. It is Her Majesty’s destiny to give birth to a one-world government with a constitutional monarch sitting in figurehead over a global democracy.”
Victoria smiled again, this time grimly. Magic wands were being waved to make this argument work. If the magic wand proved to be potent, Germany was defeated before she died, and Willy was put on the throne, then the English royal family would be thrown into disarray. She didn’t voice these misgivings to Voss, however. Rather, she ordered him to sit behind the wheel and drive them back to Chadwick House. She would need days or weeks to wrestle with the concept of making Wilhelm the King of England. One thing was certain: if Germany won the war, then Willy would seize the Crown on his own. In that case, little Willy would not be a constitutional monarch, but a tyrant with absolute power. And a new Dark Age would dawn.
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