Why We Fight

Because the enemy is Lucifer himself, Satan (which means “enemy”), rebel against God and scourge of the human race. That’s why.

Oh, you want the details.

War took Heaven and Hell into account throughout the Middle Ages, as a matter of course. Then we moderns thought we could handle our wars without involving God too much. There were always some weird stories, of course, about supernatural evil, or the near-equivalent unpredictable view of morality the Elves brought to the table. But by and large, armies could worry about beans, bullets, bandages and battles, and leave Eternity to those who lived there.

That’s until 1917.

The Great War was going badly for the Central Powers by then. Germany had knocked most of its enemies out of the war, except France and Britain. When the Americans showed up, it was a kick in the teeth to their morale.

If the Germans, who haven’t exactly earned a reputation as quitters, were worried, you can imagine how Austria-Hungary felt. Burdened with a dozen sullen nationalities, and having lost most of their best soldiers early in the war to truly incompetent generalship, the Austro-Hungarian Empire was looking down the barrel at dissolution, followed shortly by invasion, occupation, annexation, and if some of the Balkan peoples had their way, virtual extermination.

Roumania had been hammered right out of the war by the Germans, they having foolishly declared for the Allies when the Allies were riding high. But some of Roumania’s denizens were notoriously hard to kill, Abbott and Costello notwithstanding. They only came out at night and had fairly stringent dietary requirements, along with a pre-modern understanding of the rights of the common man. They presented themselves to Austro-Hungarian officials of increasingly high standing, eventually reaching the ear of the Emperor, young Karl I.

Soon, Karl wasn’t coming out in the daytime any more, and the Empire was officially Austro-Hungaro-Roumania. All the nobles of the Roumanian third of the Triple Monarchy were vampires.

Even that didn’t save the Austros once Germany collapsed. As the last of the Central Powers still in the war, they got the full attention of the Allies, such of the Allies as were still in the fight. The vampires suggested darker powers, those from which they derived their own immortality, might be disposed to aid the Empire, should its leaders but ask.

They did. And the answer was “yes, of course. And it won’t cost you a thing … nothing you’ll miss, at any rate.”

Austro-Hungaro-Roumania held off the entire Western Alliance until 1922, when they finally sued for peace. By then, actual demons were walking the Earth. The Allies were stepping up their own supernatural resources, such as the Dwarvish Brigade and the Legion of Withering Devastation, an Elf outfit loosely attached to the BEF. It was time to call it quits.

The Austros, to give them credit, told the demons their services were no longer required. It takes a lot to make a demon laugh.

Everyone says this next war was inevitable. Well, all I can tell you is that it sure didn’t look that way at the time. The doughboys went home and got jobs. Then the Depression hit, and that was Enemy Number One for a long while. Which is how I joined the Army in the first place, because even Elves have to eat.

If it really were inevitable, we’d have done more to prepare for it. Wouldn’t we? I’d like to think we would, instead of ending up right back behind the eight-ball again, having pissed away twenty years that the Enemy, to give him his due, hadn’t wasted at all.

Maybe you didn’t want the details after all, eh?

T/Sgt. Mithrandil NMI Murphy

35th Division, King Co.

Somewhere in the Alps

September 20, 1944

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