Part 26: Ultima Guerra Mundial
In attempting to conquer the fledgling Byzantine empire, the Shoshone wanted to prove that their nation, governed by the absolute rule of Order, presented a strong and capable nation wholly independent from the Portuguese ideal.
The Shoshone attempted to prove themselves independent of and superior to the political machinations of the rest of the world.
The Shoshone unleashed a monster.
The Portuguese state-of-the-art ships report on their work, noting that their Shoshone counterparts are disorganized and their troops drained of morale.
International trade embargoes robbing them of pleasure, and the knowledge that they were facing a technologically and numerically superior foe, were quickly becoming apparent to them.
The Portuguese battleships notably proved their ability by bombarding targets at seemingly impossible distances, regardless of terrain or climate.
Under such withering assault, Novo Te-Moak fell nearly instantly.
In that moment, watching Portuguese marines wielding automatic rifles racing through their ruined streets, the Shoshone realized what was at stake.
Though their defence became organized from sheer desperation, they found themselves unable to strike back against assault from the skies.
Venice, a shadow of its former self, would also soon find itself within striking range of Portuguese retribution.
Yet, for the Portuguese in the homeland, life in general seemed unchanged, and the President enjoyed continued support for continuing to develop the city of Lisboa.
Response to the diplomatic overtures against Venice is mixed, though the population of Portuguese Nihon finds itself at odds with the shogun.
The Byzantine population, meanwhile, finds itself rallying behind the Portuguese, and Theodora, despite herself, betrays some distress at the idea that a foreign ruler enjoys a greater level of popularity than she does.
Word in Brazil, meanwhile, shows that Pedro continues to fancy himself a schemer, though his court's propensity to gossip makes information gathering simple, especially given the shared language.
Constantinople is inducted into the faith of the Portuguese, at long last, though Theodora herself is an uncertain convert.
Especially capable battleships, like the Oomura Sumitada, are capable of operating at impossible distances, and secure far inland battlefields from the coast.
Meanwhile, the front moves to the Shoshone capital, and reports that Shoshone cavalry forces use their knowledge of their own territory.
To that end, Almeida recommends that Gen. Geronimo develop a forward base, in the interest of claiming part of the front from the Shoshone to better set the stage for the final invasion.
The new operating zone affords the Portuguese an opportunity to advance to the city proper.
All the while, tourists, refugees, and scholars find themselves flocking to Portugal. Their diseases are treated, their minds enriched, their pockets filled, their woes allayed.
Even as war rages abroad, the home territories think little of the matter of war, as it simply does not concern them.
Their desire, instead, is left to their President, to whom they owe their wealth and greatness.
The name of a formerly Roman warship, the Classis Lusitania I, is but a portion of knowledge that the Portuguese find a source of amusement and joy, regardless of what purpose the warship ultimately fulfills.
As trained soldiers begin to break the back of Shoshone forces, their families at home are fully occupied with the goings-on of day to day life.
The battleships of the Portuguese need only languish off the Shoshone coast and press a few buttons, and an obstacle to Portuguese supremacy is removed within an instant.
No opponent is below Portuguese attention, or above receiving its wrath.
No secret or plan beyond understanding.
As a sliver of the Armada begins its approach to Milan, Salazar asks the President a question:
"Why is it that Sebastião feared war and men fighting amongst themselves? If we did not do so, we would not be where we are today."
"What he feared, senhora, was that people ignorant of the power they held rule the world."
"We are an enlightened people, and we demonstrate it with each battle and diplomatic move. We are not like them. Every day we only grow wiser and more rational."
"Our fight against Dandolo is merely more proof of the same. We will crush him swiftly and prevent him from posing a threat to our more civilized brethren overseas."
"His words of admonition are as empty and baseless as his faith."
The President puts down the diplomatic cable and stares coldly at her aide.
"That is quite enough, Salazar. I wanted to talk to you about this finance report the Casa sent to your office."
"This research...it is fascinating, and presents opportunities beyond any that we have witnessed in human history."
Salazar is quiet.
"I know you've been authorizing the provision of grants for researchers and professors from the Universidades to support this."
"I also know that in times of war, we have always used our knowledge and intelligence to gain the upper hand."
"If I understand what it is you are trying to do, I am telling you that it is dangerous, and the Casa alone cannot determine the path forward that our country will take."
"In some ways you are right, we have to be better than the rest of the world in order to ensure peace, but that does not mean that we allow ourselves to become monsters to fight them."
"I want you to remember that. I won't allow our nation to be remembered as one that enabled the release of a monster."
Salazar responds with a low voice.
"Senhora, we are beyond the days of believing in monsters. There is only ignorance, and we will see it destroyed."
Milanese defences along the coast prove themselves remarkably hardy, and the São Rafael finds itself in need of emergency repairs. Battleship support is lacklustre, and backup is called for.
On the other side of the world, Nagasaki continues its meteoric rise to fame as the product of Portuguese and Japanese collaboration. Its industrial base becomes more famous by the day.
The same cannot be said of similar outlying settlements for the Shoshone.
Despite everything, Moson Kahni holds fast, though the withering assault of Kublai Khan's combined volunteer and professional forces has depleted all hope of reinforcement for the isolated Shoshone.
Milan, remarkably, seems an unbreakable behemoth by comparison.
Though, Washakie's fate seems in little doubt.
Reinforcements arrive after a small eternity in transit, but it is too late.
The Portuguese have once again bested the Shoshone in warfare.
Yet, it did not stop there.
There were celebrations in Byzantium and the Portuguese homeland over another victory, and national pride was at an all-time high.
Allies abroad were proud of their union, they had recognized that together, they were capable of defeating any adversary.
They recognized that the Shoshone were still capable of posing a threat, desperate as they were.
They wanted to right wrongs, and set the long moral arc of history back on its way towards justice.
They did not want to stop fighting.
Though tormented by the demons born of her better nature, the President deferred to the will of her people.
There had to be something good and right about what they were doing.
Perhaps she did not see it, and simply needed to look at it differently.
A piece of paper crosses her desk, requesting authorization to place a Roman exclave under martial law, citing a national security concern.
She signed it, and turned her eyes towards an overcast sky outside her window.
The fado music from the theatres across the road seemed quieter than usual.
Moson Kahni was retaken, though the bomber squadrons previously posted there had been wiped out in the Shoshone recapture.
The Portuguese once again took their victories to the conference room.
All is right with the world.
The sisters in industry, Bissau and Faro, began the development of airports in support of the war effort, with civilian transit between the homeland and overseas territories as more of a background benefit.
Venice, surprisingly resilient to the Portuguese military, would not survive the wrath of the Congress.
Amid the cheers and applause from home, the men and women of the Portuguese forces charge headlong into battle against the forces of oppression.
The sacrifice of the São Rafael is barely noted in the roar of the crowd.
People can only be at their greatest when they are free.
Prosperity can only follow from the path the Portuguese have taken.
There is only just victory for Portugal.
Opponents of the dominion of Freedom are simply clinging to the past, to outmoded ideas.
They deserve punishment for their ignorance, and will be set on the right path in time.
Mercy is purely discretionary.
"You have done well." Theodora says, the Byzantine language dancing through her voice. "Together, we will forevermore make this world a peaceful one."
"Even angels fallen from heaven would take up arms in your name."
"We are overjoyed that you would entrust the people of the Shoshone to us, that we might guide them on the right path as you have guided us."
"You have left the enemies of freedom nowhere to hide."
The cheers of thousands of freed Brazilians fill the ears of the President.
There is only one step left to take.
The world is almost ready for peace.
Not everyone will understand the means by which it was wrought.
Yet, the President alone knows the price of freedom.
In the distance, the President hears a voice calling out to her.
"We wish to see you hunt!"
A chorus of voices roars its approval, in all the languages of man.
Almeida, in the midst of a friendly conversation with Pedro, nods his approval.
The crowd parts, and Salazar walks up to the President, a smile on his face.
He hands her a golden bow, and an arrow shining with sunlight.
She looks around for a suitable target.
Her eyes lock on the Shoshone territory, barely visible from her vantage point among the clouds.
"A fine choice, Senhora Presidente." Salazar whispers gently into her ear. "They need to be shown the fruits of our enlightenment."
She nocks the arrow, and it grows brighter still.
Though it hurts her eyes and starts to burn her hands, she focuses her breathing and looks to the earth below.
She barely hears a familiar voice calling out to her, but she ignores it.
She pushes all other thoughts from her mind, and becomes one with her target.
She lets loose the arrow
A crowd of cheers becomes a horrible chorus of screams, as the arrow sails through the sky.
Pedro stares at her in horror.
"What have you done?!"
There is a banging noise in the distance, and a voice rings in her ear like a siren.
The President jolts awake, and finds herself in her office, surrounded by paper and confronted with a panicked Almeida.
"Salazar is in Bissau. He has the weapon, and he wishes to speak with you."
"The wealth of the Casa de Luanda has seen fit to provide you with an instrument of freedom, the likes of which the world has never seen before." Salazar begins. "With but a command, we will strike at Agaidika and carve out the heart of this evil once and for all."
The President clears her mind of all thoughts, and opens herself to the voices of her people.
"We will end this with words."
"We will end this with fire."