Twilight of Empire
The Axis won World War II and the United States has been divided up between Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. The former allies are now at war with each other and Alaska Territory is in rebellion. Is this the twilight of both empires?
World War II ended with the German atom bombing of Washington, D.C. in early 1945. The United States is occupied by the Third Reich from the Atlantic Ocean to the Rocky Mountains, and by the Japanese from the Rockies to the Pacific.
It is now 1967 and Alaska Territory is embroiled in a war against their occupiers. With the destruction of Tokyo and Berlin, the world is in upheaval. The long Quiet War between former allies has devolved into a fighting war.
The Underground Liberation has called for a total uprising and both the Reich and the Empire of Japan more than have their hands full. Both will have to move quickly to prevent the Twilight of Empire.
Imperial Japanese Navy Headquarters
Juneau, Alaska Prefecture
“Commander Hokama, Patrol Boat 96 does not answer,” the senior radioman said with a deep bow. All motion stopped in the operations center.
“Lieutenant Chiba, What course was 96 to follow?”
“Commander, Patrol Boat 96 was to perform standard patrol of Sector 2.”
“Chief Izumi, are any of the other patrols experiencing radio problems?”
“No, commander. All other boats and stations have reported in, following protocol. Perhaps Patrol Boat 96 has experienced equipment failure?”
“Have your men continually monitored all radio traffic today?”
“Yes, commander. Just as you ordered. All they heard was routine traffic from the fleet.”
“Fleet!” Hokama said contemptuously. “We haven’t had a fleet for over twenty years thanks to Tojo’s bastards.”
Silence fell throughout the room. Despite the Imperial Navy’s contempt for the Imperial Army it was very dangerous for anyone to disparage the late General Tojo. Both the Tokkō and the Kempeitai, as well as the Navy’s Tokkeitai could have planted informers among their ranks.
Hokama immediately sensed the caution in the room.
“Excellent. Tell the air wing to send a reconnaissance aircraft to follow the standard route of Sector 2.”
“Yes, Commander Hokama!” Chief Izumi snapped to attention and gave his superior a three-quarter bow. He turned to the technician manning the radio and spoke to him in a low voice. Moments later he once again came to attention.
“Commander Hokama, the air wing has sent up an observation aircraft.”
“Make sure someone stays on the radio with the pilot.”
“Yes, Commander Hokama!”
Reconnaissance Floatplane 535
Juneau, Alaska Prefecture
Flight Sub-Lieutenant Goro Seta taxied his N1K1 floatplane into the middle of Gastineau Channel and accelerated down channel into the wind. Once above 4,000 feet he turned north.
“This is Recon 535,” he said over the radio. “I am searching Sector 2 beginning with Shelter Island.”
“Acknowledge, Recon 535. Keep us informed.”
Light rain reduced visibility more than Goro liked. He flew low around the small islands in Lynn Canal so he could easily see the beaches. Shelter Island required a complete circumnavigation and the smaller islands received a mere glance. At the northern-most point of the sector he flew along the mainland beach.
Dusk arrives early in the Alexander Archipelago and visibility had dropped accordingly. Lieutenant Seta neared Tee Harbor and glanced over at the largest portion, the south end, and moved his heading to the right. Totally as an automatic gesture, he glanced in his rearview mirror.
“Is that a floating dock or two boats?” he blurted.
“We did not copy that transmission, Recon 535,” the operations radioman said.
“I am going back to Tee Harbor for a fly-over.”
Tee Harbor, Alaska Prefecture
Seaman Second Class Jerry Kohler, still embarrassed about puking, heard the plane first.
“Aircraft!” he screamed.
“Battle stations!” Captain Wallace bellowed. “Gunners, nail that son of a bitch!”
Chief Gunner’s Mate Foster grabbed the 20mm, led the plane and then raised the muzzle two inches and fired four times. The first three erupted from the barrel, but the fourth round didn’t fire.
He pulled the trigger again. When nothing happened he cursed and ran to the starboard Oerlikon and pushed Bosun Andrews out of the way. The late Seaman First Class Dean Long had last manned that position.
“Let me get it, Chief!” Foster said. He aimed the weapon and pulled the trigger. “It’s a Rex, they’re nasty!” he shouted.
The fighter screamed down at them, seemingly impervious to their fire. The plane’s engine abruptly blew apart, sending the propeller spinning off in a high arc into the growing darkness.
The Rex kept firing as the burning plane continued to head straight for them.
“He’s going to hit us!” Foster screamed. “Blow him out of the air!”
The 40 mm Bofors on the fantail pounded away and the plane disintegrated in an explosion. The crew of PT-245 stared in shocked relief as debris rained down across the south arm of Tee Harbor.
“Chief Harris, get the radio warmed up. We need to talk to central command.”
“Aye, aye, skipper.” Harris was already inside the small radio room, on the other side of the bulkhead from where Captain Wallace stood at the wheel.
“We’re getting out of here, guys,” Wallace yelled. He hit the boat horn three times. The sound echoed back from the shoreline.
People came out of their cabins all around the cove and he picked up a bullhorn. “The Japs will be here soon and they’re gonna be pissed. You should all evacuate. Good luck!”
Every family in Southeast Alaska had an emergency plan and now they would be tested.
PT-245 accelerated out of Tee Harbor and into Lynn Canal on her first war patrol in 22 years.