Hammer of God (Kirov Series Book 14)

BOOK: Hammer of God (Kirov Series Book 14)
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Kirov Saga:

Hammer Of
God

 

By

 

John Schettler

 

 

 

 

A publication
of:
The Writing Shop Press

Hammer Of God
Copyright©2014, John A. Schettler

 

Discover
other titles by John Schettler:
The Kirov Saga:
(Military Fiction)

Kirov
-
Kirov Series - Volume I
Cauldron Of Fire -
Kirov Series - Volume II

Pacific Storm
-
Kirov Series - Volume
III

Men Of War -
Kirov Series - Volume IV
Nine Days Falling -
Kirov Series - Volume V

Fallen Angels
-
Kirov Series - Volume
VI

Devil’s
Garden -
Kirov Series -
Volume VII

Armageddon
– Kirov Series – Volume VIII

Altered
States
– Kirov Series –
Volume IX
Darkest Hour
– Kirov Series – Volume X
Hinge Of Fate
– Kirov Series – Volume XI

Three Kings
– Kirov Series – Volume XII

Grand
Alliance
– Kirov Series –
Volume XIII
Hammer Of God
– Kirov Series – Volume XIV
Crescendo Of Doom
– Kirov Series – Volume XV

Paradox Hour
– Kirov Series – Volume XVI

Award
Winning Science Fiction:

Meridian
-
Meridian Series - Volume I
Nexus Point
- Meridian Series - Volume II
Touchstone
- Meridian Series - Volume III

Anvil of Fate
- Meridian Series - Volume IV
Golem 7
- Meridian Series - Volume V
Classic Science Fiction:
Wild Zone
- Dharman Series - Volume I
Mother Heart
- Dharman Series - Volume II
Historical Fiction:
Taklamakan
- Silk Road Series - Volume I
Khan Tengri
- Silk Road Series - Volume II

Dream Reaper
– Mythic Horror Mystery

 

Mailto:
[email protected]

http://www.writingshop.ws
~ http://www.dharma6.com

 

 

 

 

 

Kirov Saga:

Hammer Of
God

 

By

 

John Schettler

 

 

 

Author’s Note:

 

For
readers who might be dropping in without having taken the journey
here from book one in the
Kirov Series
, this is the story of a Russian
modern day battlecruiser displaced in time to the 1940s and embroiled in WWII.
Their actions over the many episodes have so fractured the history, that they
now find themselves in an alternate retelling of those events. In places the
history is remarkably true to what it once was, in others badly cracked and
markedly different. Therefore, events in this account of WWII have changed.
Operations have been spawned that never happened, like the German attack on
Gibraltar, and others will be cancelled and may never occur, like Operation
Torch. And even if some events here do ring true as they happened before, the
dates of those campaigns may be changed.

This
alternate history began in Book 9 of the series, entitled
Altered States
,
and you would do well to at least back step and begin your journey there if you
are interested in the period June 1940 to January 1 1941, which is covered in
books 9 through 11 in the series. That time encompasses action in the North
Atlantic, the battle of Britain, German plans and decisions regarding
Operations Seelöwe and Felix, the action against the French fleet at
Mers-el-Kebir and Dakar, and other events in Siberia that serve as foundations
for things that will occur later in the series.

Three
Kings
was a “bridge novel” leading you into
1941 with the British Operation Compass and the coming of Rommel and his Afrika
Korps. But three timely reinforcements arrive for Britain—from most unexpected
places! In
Grand Alliance
those forces join the action on land and sea
in two major engagements to stem the Axis tide.
Hammer of God
now takes
us to the decisive months leading up to the German attack on Soviet Russia, and
the war now takes a decided new turn into the ancient lands of the Middle East.
Here two vital campaigns were fought in Iraq and Syria to secure Britain’s
tenuous position in Egypt, only this time the Germans have a few surprises of
their own as another thread of Fedorov’s beloved history begins to unwind.

     
-J.
Schettler

 

 

 

 

Part I

 

Strokes
of Heaven

 

 

“The hardest strokes
of heaven fall in history upon those who imagine that they can control things
in a sovereign manner, playing providence not only for themselves but for the
far future—reaching out into the future with the wrong kind of farsightedness,
and gambling on a lot of risky calculations in which there must never be a
single mistake.”

 

English Historian
Sir Herbert Butterfield

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 1

 

Fedorov
had been dreading
the meeting in Alexandria, but the presence of Admirals Tovey and Cunningham,
and the support of both General O’Connor and Brigadier Kinlan had conspired to
make it much more bearable. They had come to initiate a new member into the
grey priesthood of the knowing—those who grasped the full truth concerning
Kirov
and the newly arrived 7th Brigade. The ability to speak directly to Wavell in
Russian eased the language barrier, but it was still difficult to simply come
out with the story of all that had happened in the desert.

Wavell displayed the expected
surprise and disbelief, but here he had Admirals, Generals and Captains off
strange Russian ships in front of him, and they all held fast to the same
belief. Beyond that, he knew very well that he had no armored force in the
southern desert. It had been all he could do to send a single battalion from
the 6th Australian Division there to cover Siwa and try to scout out the enemy
position at Giarabub. In the end, the argument that had finally won him over
was the simple fact of Rommel’s retreat. The Germans had been set to roll in on
his last strategic reserve in theatre, the 2nd New Zealand Infantry Division.
The battle had been joined, and he had also sent the Carpathian Brigade in to
try and backstop the position at Bir el Khamsa. As the first reports of the
action came in, he soon received an urgent communication from O’Connor.

“Presently on the enemy flank and
with good force in hand. I propose to attack at dawn. The lack of details had
proved to be most aggravating, and Wavell could not imagine what O’Connor was
talking about. What force might he have scraped up that could threaten the
enemy flank? That said, the intrepid O’Connor had appeared like a mad Jinn on
the blood red dawn, and something had come surging out of the southern desert
with a vengeance. It had struck the enemy like the Hammer of God, and sent the
entire German Afrika Korps reeling with shock, and Wavell could not argue with
that result. By the time he had thought to get forward to see what was
happening, he had a message in hand that an urgent meeting had been called in
Alexandria. There he heard the combined testimony of all these other respected
officers, all serious minded men. Tovey and Cunningham were fresh from battle
at sea, and here before him now was a man he had no knowledge of whatsoever,
Brigadier Kinlan. There he stood, his odd uniform soiled by the desert, looking
like a sensible, competent British serving officer—from a distant future that
Wavell could not even begin to imagine.

Six hours later he was a
different man.

They had gone over everything
together, and then another strange gentlemen was introduced, and Director
Kamenski had a long, quiet chat with Wavell. This moment had come to them all,
each man present. They had all suffered the same shock, the wrenching
disorientation, the disbelief. Yet they had all come to accept their fate in
time. They were now believers.

It wasn’t until the discussion
turned to plans and strategy that Wavell could even begin to gather his
thoughts. The realization finally struck him like that same Hammer of God, but
he suddenly realized that he had that hammer in his own strong hand now, and
could wield the most powerful weapon any man had ever been given in this world.
So he put aside all his shock and disbelief and pressed his thoughts on what
they might now achieve with this godsend.

“Gentlemen,” he said. “What,
then, do we propose to do? And how in the world are we to communicate all this
to our government? I have been in receipt of cables from the Prime Minister
every other day. If he has not already been informed, he will want a summation
of the current situation in the Western Desert from me forthwith. What in the
world am I to tell him? Just last week I was stressing the lack of transport
and the complete inadequacy of our current armored forces. He was proposing
every sort of counter to the enemy advance, right down to naval landings on the
coast road behind Rommel’s lines. In short, he had no effective understanding
of what we were facing here, and could not imagine why we were not able to
prevent Rommel’s advance. He insisted we chop off the turtle’s neck, as he put
things.”

“Well,” Admiral Tovey smiled. “It
seems you have done exactly that. The details may not be important—only the
result. The Prime Minister will certainly take heart in knowing we’ve set
Rommel back on his heel. But I cannot imagine that we can continue on without
him knowing what has happened here. Captain Fedorov has stressed the grave
importance of restricting the knowledge we have shared with you, and I am in
full agreement with that. But the Prime Minister must be informed. It is a hard
hour, when we come to the realization that the world we are living in is not
what we thought it was. It takes courage and time to stand up after that. Yet
we need only focus our minds and hearts on one thing now—how can we prevail?”

“That will be the same question
the enemy is asking,” said Cunningham. “They have seen the rockets fly, and
smelled the burning steel. Though they may have no idea what really befell
them, both at sea and on land, they will still be set on finding a way to
redress that situation.”

“So we must be resolute,” said
Tovey, “and we must press our advantage to the fullest while we can. The
support of both Admiral Volsky, Miss Fairchild, and Brigadier Kinlan has been
decisive. We have turned the enemy back on both fronts, but this struggle is
far from over.”

Wavell nodded gravely as he spoke
up now. “As I am in regular communication with the Prime Minister, perhaps I
can handle the matter of his briefing. But realize that what happens to that
information after it is disclosed will not be a matter I can control.”

“That is the dilemma,” said
Fedorov after he heard the translation. “The more this knowledge spreads, the
greater the chance that it will act like a poison in this world. It must be
restricted, the most closely guarded secret of the war. Surely a man like
Churchill can understand that.”

“I believe he will,” said Wavell.
“In the short run he is likely to send Foreign Secretary Eden here to
investigate and report. I can’t see how we can avoid his knowing about all of
this. And what about the War Cabinet? The list goes on and on. Who do we
include in this little club, and who is to be shut out?”

“Perhaps it would be best if we
arrange a meeting with Churchill here, away from the hubbub of the War Cabinet
and the politics involved,” said Tovey. “Might we persuade him to come out and
have a look around himself?”

“I would be delighted to make the
invitation,” said Wavell, “and I suppose if we all put our names to it, with
the strongest possible request that he come here, good old Winston will likely
be so curious as to what this is all about that he would swim here, if he
couldn’t fly.”

That brought a much needed round
of laughter, though it was short-lived when Wavell revealed the most recent
message he had received from Churchill. “More than a simple communication, this
is a directive, dated Feb 14, 1941. The Prime Minister stresses the importance
of taking every advantage of our recent victory, and states that every effort
must be made to cut the enemy’s lines of communications by sea to North
Africa.”

“He had undoubtedly heard the
results of our recent battle,” said Tovey, “though he has not yet received my
full report. I have received that directive as well, and Mister Churchill seems
adamant that we are to mount the most aggressive naval campaign possible. The
Admiralty wants us to bombard Tripoli, and that failing, to block the harbor by
sinking a ship.”

“That was undoubtedly Admiral
Pound’s suggestion,” said Cunningham. “Hasn’t he learned of the condition of my
fleet?”

“He knows we lost
Queen
Elizabeth,
and that
Malaya
is damaged,” said Tovey. “Yet he still
strongly suggests that every effort must be made, and went so far as to say
that any losses must be accepted to achieve this aim—the strangulation of enemy
supply routes to North Africa—even if we lose another battleship. They suggest
we should commit
Warspite
to the task.”

“That is out of the question,”
said Cunningham, and Tovey was quick to agree.

 “I will inform them of the true
condition of
Malaya
,” he said. “The ship is holed beneath the water
line, and badly beaten up. I doubt it will be serviceable for at least a year,
and that leaves only
Invincible
and
Warspite
available until I
can move new forces here from Somerville, though they’ll take some time getting
round the cape.”

 “Yes? Well my latest
communication from Churchill is most alarming. He is now proposing to try and
kill two birds with a single stone by sending both
Rodney
and
Nelson
through the Straits of Gibraltar as escorts for a convoy of reserve tanks for Wavell.”

“Through the straits?”

“Quite so. The Admiralty seems to
think the recent engagement has the enemy in as bad a condition as we are. They
believe the convoy has a good chance of winning through—tiger convoy, or so the
Prime Minister is now calling it.”

“Well, the enemy battleships may
be in the shipyards of Toulon for the moment, and taking repairs, but don’t
they realize the German still have U-boats? Somerville says he tried to slip a
fast destroyer through and it never came back. Now
Rodney
and
Nelson
are fine ships, but at a little over twenty knots top speed, they will make
fine targets in those constricted waters.”

“I’m afraid this is probably my
fault,” said Wavell. “I was bellyaching to the Prime Minister over our lack of
serviceable tanks here, and their importance in any operation of any
consequence. He was none too happy about our inability to send any meaningful
reinforcement of Greece.”

“That will be on my plate,” said
Tovey. “Given the ferocity of the engagements we have recently fought, it
should not be difficult to explain the consequences we would have faced in
losing a division at sea. We’ve beaten the enemy off for now, but at
significant cost. While the Italians have withdrawn to La Spezia for the moment
to lick their wounds, and the Germans and French to Toulon and Taranto, they
are nonetheless capable of posing a serious challenge, and the enemy air
superiority in the Central Mediterranean makes any move as the Prime Minister
suggests a rash endeavor.”

“Yes? Well he will consider every
enemy convoy that gets through to be a serious naval failure,” said Cunningham.
“It says as much in his directive. He seems convinced the deck armor on the
Nelson
class is impervious to the bombs delivered by German
Stukas
.”

“Well I have made arrangements to
get us more help here,” said Tovey. “If we are to have any chance of doing what
the Prime Minister directs concerning Tripoli, then we’ll need aircraft
carriers first. The rocket defense put up by our friends from tomorrow was
formidable, but German planes come much cheaper than the missiles they’ll be
forced to use if we rely on them too often. I’ve already ordered
Glorious
to join us with more fighters, and she is en-route. I’ll settle the matter of
Rodney
and
Nelson
as soon as I can communicate with Somerville. We still have
Richelieu
and
Jean Bart
to worry about at Casablanca, and if we take those battleships
he’ll have only
Valiant
. The battlecruiser squadron is getting back on
its feet after that beating we took up north, so we may be able to pull that
off if I send Somerville a battlecruiser. The Prime Minister will have to be
patient.”

“Patient?” said Wavell. “He’ll be
like a bulldog with a rope in his mouth, and this directive will not be the
last. His most recent communication informs me the Americans have taken up
patrols in the Denmark Strait zone, and that this should relieve our concerns
in the North Atlantic.”

“True, but he drafted that some
weeks ago, before having the information we are now preparing to disclose,”
said Tovey. “Once he sees the big picture, then we can settle things down to a
real plan.”

“Yes,” said Wavell. “The
disintegration of 2nd Armored on the retreat east was a mystery to him. He
simply has no conception of the conditions here, and how unreliable our
equipment is.”

“It would seem that my brigade
can redress that,” said Kinlan.

“Well you are a most welcome
knight at our round table here,” said Wavell. “Arthur has come back from Avalon
at the eleventh hour. Yet knowing Churchill, the moment he learns we have the
services of Brigadier Kinlan, he will stop at nothing to put them to good use.”

 “We are more than willing to
fight,” said Kinlan. “While I have no doubts about my brigade, and what it can
accomplish, realize our power is limited. I’ve tallied the ammunition expended
in this surprise attack we made at Bir el Khamsa. We used about ten percent of
our available main gun rounds for heavy tanks and artillery. For the moment,
then, we remain very potent, but I’m told the Germans are reinforcing their
position even as we speak, which is probably why the higher-ups are adamant we
choke off their sea lanes.”

“Intelligence we’ve received
indicated they are moving another motorized infantry division and two other
brigade groups,” said Wavell. “We also believe that at least two other units
are scheduled for deployment here, a mountain infantry division and another
Panzer division. Mister Churchill proposes we do everything in our power to
stop this buildup. He directs us to use the Glen Ship infantry carriers set
aside for the Rhodes operation to land commando units on the coastal road to
interdict enemy land convoys. He even suggests that landing a few tanks and
letting them ‘rip their way along the coast’ as he put it, to inflict damage
far exceeding their own value. And once he learns of Brigadier Kinlan’s force
his imagination will be further fired. I would not be surprised to find he
wishes us to launch an immediate attack aimed at destroying the Afrika Korps
altogether, and capturing Tripoli outright! Well, it will be at least a month
before I can effectively occupy Cyrenaica and take Benghazi from the Italians.
At the moment I have the ANZAC forces committed to that task, but it will take
time.”

BOOK: Hammer of God (Kirov Series Book 14)
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