Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to Battalion Wars.
Part IV: Snow Sorrow & Radios
Karl awoke from his shallow nightmare filled sleep, woken up by the biting cold that penetrated the tent wall, and his blanket. He arose from his hammock and grabbed a kettle of what was now ice. He wrapped a scarf around his neck and tucked it's ends into his uniform, which he went to bed in. He left his tent to see that the sun hadn't rose yet, and that he wasn't the only one that rose early. The men were huddled around the drum fires, trying to keep warm while also heating their kettles and rations. Karl took to this action as well. The rations weren't terribly filling, and the re-used tea bag was starting to lose its flavour, but it was better than nothing.
"Herr Oberleutnant!" a soldier addressed him, "are we to move out, or are we staying here?"
Karl sipped his tea, "I am weighing our options. On the one hand, if we pack up and leave, we may wander around aimlessly and catch our deaths. On the other hand, if we use this battlestation as a base of operations, then we can send out search parties from this location, but we run the risk of being seen and captured, or killed." he sipped his tea again.
"Are we staying for the time being?"
"Yes, but that may change tomorrow."
Karl watched as his men continued to dig out the battlestation.
"what a magnificent machine." he thought. Two hundred years of Xylvanian engineering culminating into the massive blue war machine. As a member of Kaiserkriegmarine, he had seen many of these machines on heavy transports. He had never seen them so close though, only from a distance. He was always on standard troop transports. But now that the metal goliath was mostly... unearthed? unsnowed? Regardless, he was now able to fully view the full magnificence of the great machine. He remembered the days when the globe was under the heel of Xylvania's boot. When the Dune Sea and the rest of the old continent was entirely Xylvainian. They would have had the Anglos as well, if it wasn't for their air force. He sighed. He'd probably never see Xylvania in a better state ever again.
The Baron awoke from his night's sleep to see that it was still dark out. The submarine's internal heating may have been on, but that didn't stop the cold from biting at him. He put on his coat and decided to go for a stroll, or as close to a stroll as he could get in a long thin tube. He walked the length of the submarine, occasionally looking at the men at work. Many thoughts and memories rushed through his head. Karl had said something earlier in the journey, "how do you know that Kaiser Vlad will still be alive when and if we find him?" This question had been floating around his head since it was said. What if the kaiser was dead, and the only child he ever had, Countess Ingrid, had died when she resurrected the remnants of the Iron Legion. He didn't have any brothers or sisters, and neither did any of his ancestors, at least according to any known records. All they could do is hold a state funeral. They could always switch to a republic, but Xylvania had always had a monarch.
From Lord Ferrok, to Lord Waldelm, to King Sturmwaffe, to King Adlof, to Kaiser Aculard, and finally to Kaiser Vlad. Could they just choose a new Kaiser? If so, then how do they choose him? Or perhaps a republic wasn't a bad idea.
"NO! Bad Emmet, get that filthy idea out of your head!" he said, quite literally knocking on his head to remove the thought.
No, a republic was not suitable. It was not adequate. It was not Xylvanian! They would not stoop to the levels of the repugnant Western Frontier. They would find a kaiser, and that kaiser would be the best kaiser Xylvania would ever have!"
The battle station was quite roomy without any guns and ammunition taking up the space. It also became rather cosy when they moved a stove into it. The sleeping quarters would be a little cramped, but that was a willing sacrifice for a warm-ish place to sleep. Claustrophobia and the fear of possible cannibalism wouldn't keep Karl from turning this war machine into home away from submarine away from home. The men had done a fine job of excavating the snow that caked the machine's outsides. Karl looked at the machine with pride.
"Good job men. Now we can look at the machine in all its glory."
The grunts nodded and stood beside the Acid Gas Veteran and marvelled at all their hard work.
"we moved a stove and the equipment in there right?" asked the sergeant.
"Most of the equipment... why?"
"Cause the snow would have been a fantastic insulator."
There was silence. A grunt face-palmed himself.
"Well then..." Karl said, patting the sergeant's on his shoulder, "Looks like you guys have work to do."
Karl patrolled the battlestation. The idea of a base to operate from was becoming quite comfortable. With the snow being re-shoveld on the battlestation, the place was becoming camouflaged, which would reduce the chance of being spotted by the Tundrans, and it was also being insulated, which would make the place warm, which would reduce the chance of frostbite. All in all, with most hazards removed, searching from one central point wasn't a bad idea. They would take the day to settle into the battlestation, and perhaps a little longer to see if they can fully camouflage the battlestation.
The baron sat in his quarters, staring at old photos. He needed the nostalgia to uplift his mood. Photos of him, at the naval academy, taking command as captain of his first ship, earning his position in the Board of Admiralty from Kaiser Vlad. Then he stumbled across photos of him and Karl. Over the years Karl became more than the leader of his marines, he became his best friend. Photos of Karl at his birthday, of Karl and him in the Dune Sea, and of him at Karl on the deck of the TKS Attentäter. And then... photos of his wife and twin sons... He stared longingly at them. His son, Gunter, died in his tour of duty in the dune sea at the hands of the western frontier, his wife, Helga, was killed by the over-zealous warriors of the solar empire during their counter invasion, and his second son, Franz, was reported missing in action during Xylvania's mission of greatness, during the battle of Ice Station X.
He stared at the photos, eyes fixed on his two sons, his two young sons. They had no idea of what they would see. Much like him, blinded with propaganda and glory. To be honest, he was blind too, that is until Gunter died. His poor Gunter. He had so much promise. A strong young man, sharp witted, and according to his many girlfriends, was also quite handsome. And Franz... Franz was a sports star! He captained his favourite soccer team. He was so happy, he was a star. Franz von Blitzkrieg is what they called him. Then he joined the army, caught in the trap that is hot headed revenge over the deaths of Gunter and their Mother. And Helga... A sweet loving woman who cared so much for so many. Franz was grieving for weeks, saying that she wouldn't have died if he wasn't on the other side of the country.
The Baron's head hit the table as he began to sob. He had no sons, and he had no wife. He could do nothing but lament. He hated that he could only lament.
Karl stood in his quarters, staring down the corridor of the battlestation. He was quite pleased with himself. This battlestation was a symbol of Xylvanian defiance towards the Tundran waists. He checked his watch, it was nearly time for rest, but he decided to patrol his new base once more before dropping into his hammock for the night. He walked past a Grunt fiddling with the Battlestation's radio.
"Corporal, what are you doing?"
"I've been trying to fix the radio sir."
"Is it working?"
"It will be... in... a... second..." the grunt's speech slowed as he was placing in new vacuum tubes.
"Where'd you get the tubes?"
"Found a box of spare parts... There, It should work."
Karl looked at the power switch. "Only one way to find out."
The grunt flipped the switch, the radio turned on.
"What frequency sir?"
"Let's use a frequency no one uses any more."
"Right then." The grunt twisted the knobs. "There we go. This frequency hasn't been used in a hundred years."
"Excellent!" Karl said, getting a bit excited. "I'll take one of our outside and we'll if it works!"
Karl went and grabbed a portable radio pack and went outside the now half buried battlestation. He set it down and cranked the generator, set the frequency, and He turned on the comm and spoke."
"Hello? Corporal? Can you hear me?"
"Yessir, you're coming in clear-ish"
"Yes sir, a bit of static."
"Maybe there's something wrong with the speaker Eh?"
"Yes may-" the corporal stopped. That wasn't Karl. He turned off the radio immediately. Karl ran into the battlestation. "Sir! Did you hear that!?"
"Yes Corporal... Yes I did..."
They stared at the radio.