Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Strange and Storied History of Silence Do-Good, part 7: Costumed Crusaders

"There are those who will say that I have made a mistake, that I have betrayed my country. To those people I simply say: Let history judge my actions today." -- Silence Do-Good, 15 November 1920

On the face of it, what Silence Do-Good did on that cold November morning was a small thing,but it would have repercussions which would forever echo down the ages.

A shipment of illegal alcohol was being smuggled into Chicago by elements of Johnny Torrio's criminal empire via the docks, there to be dispersed by truck to hundreds of downtown speakeasies. Not only would this continue to fuel the growing war between the Italian Chicago Mob and the Irish North Side Gang, it would also dictate a strong response by Dylan, Michael, and Thomas Callaghan, a.k.a the Quiet Men.

The Callaghan brothers were all WW1 veterans, possessed of typical Irish tempers and a strong Catholic sense of right and wrong. They were among the first to take up arms against the growing wave of crime in their city, using infantry tactics learned in the harsh Mexican Campaign. They used their heritage to their advantage, making their attacks on Torrio's mob seem the work of the North Siders. Unfortunately, the Torrio was tired of these attacks, and alongside the alcohol were large amounts of automatic weapons and ammunition for same. Open warfare was about to break out in the streets of Chicago, and the Callaghan brothers were about to light the fuse.
Side note: The Quiet Men were, despite their lack of powers or costumes, the first "super group" ever to appear in this universe. They wore similar outfits -- World War 1 uniforms with any identifying marks removed, trenchcoats with upturned collars, and fedoras pulled down low. They used code names -- Lieutenant, Sergeant, and Private. They even used different weapons -- Lt. Quiet (Michael Callaghan) carried a Colt .45 pistol in his right hand and a swagger stick in his left; Sgt. Quiet (Dylan Callaghan) used an M1903 Springfield with affixed bayonet; and Pvt Quiet (Thomas Callaghan) used a Thompson SMG* with drum magazine.

Given the similarity of clothing, obvious command structure, and different yet complimentary choice of weapons in lieu of power, they not only set the mold for all future super groups, but also dictated vigilante fashion for decades. 
Silence knew that Torrio's mob could not be allowed to smuggle their contraband into Chicago, but she also knew that any police response would be out-manned and out-gunned. Worse, the Quiet Men knew about the shipment as well, and planned to hit the trucks as they left the docks. Therefore, she did the one thing that would not result in catastrophic loss of life: direct intervention.

The battle, if you can call it that, was short. Silence waited below ground as the mobsters transferred the contraband from the ship to the docks. Her plan was to have the earth swallow the crates once the ship was unloaded, then appear and take them all into custody. Unfortunately, this plan was foiled almost immediately as the gang members chose to begin loading the crates immediately into the first waiting truck, sending each out as soon as it was loaded.

When the first truck began to leave, Silence sprang into action. She partially liquefied the ground underneath the truck, swallowing it to its axles. The gangsters in the truck, not knowing exactly what was going on but aware that something seriously wrong had occurred, leaped out and sounded the alarm. Immediately the other gangsters pulled out weapons and ceased the unloading of the ship as the crew hastily made to depart. In the confusion, no one noticed the large woman rising from the ground, or saw her grasp the bow line and tie it about her waist. "YOU ARE ALL UNDER ARREST," she then shouted in a voice which carried like a foghorn. "PUT DOWN YOUR WEAPONS AND..."

The rest of her sentence was drowned out by gunshots as Torrio's mobsters opened fire on her with their automatic weapons. None of them seemed to hit her, however, for the concrete of the pier rose up and encased her as she assumed her Golem Form, granting her the strength and durability of the earth itself. This had the added effect of fusing the line to her body and anchoring her to the dock. Then she gave the line a good, solid yank.

A rare glimpse of Silence in her true Golem form

Later, one of the gangsters was reported as saying, "First we was shootin' at this big dame in blue. Next she was a statue. I dunno where the boat came from, one minute it was in the water and the next it was landin' almost on toppa us! As we was pickin' ourselves up, the statue-thing rises outta the ground with the biggest dang hammer I ever seen, like a telephone pole with cement foundation bein' held upside-down. I dunno what it said after that, but me'n the rest of the boys figgered it'd won so we all raised our hands and cried uncle."

As a point of interest, Silence's actual words were as follows: "Naughty, naughty, shooting a lady. If you don't surrender right now I shall be forced to spank you." This delivery was made more impressive by the massive war-mallet she had taken from the earth, and that her voice in golem form sounded like an avalanche.

The mobsters weren't the only witnesses to Silence's actions that day. Also in attendance was Max Fairfield, a junior reporter for the Chicago Tribune on the crime beat, who had received an anonymous tip about "something important" happening at the docks, and that he should bring a camera with him. In so doing, he made history, for he was the first journalist to photograph, and then interview, the first Super Hero.

Excerpted from Max Fairfield's Pulitzer-winning article, Silent No More:
I called you here as a witness to history, Mr. Fairfield. It is your job to ensure that my words are heard across this country and throughout history. If you misquote me I shall be quite cross with you.

Know this: A new war is upon, a war against the criminal element, and I shall not sit idly by as this war consumes the country I love. My father created me to defend our nation against all threats, both foreign and domestic, and this I do now.

Also know that just I will not abide criminal behavior, neither shall I tolerate murder in my name. There has been enough killing, and as I stand before you now, it will end. There are those who sought to emulate me and fight for justice, and their thirst for justice does them credit. But violence only multiplies violence.

I say to you now, before God and Country, that these "Mystery Men" cannot exist in America, for our country cannot, will not abide assassination in lieu of law. Let those who wish to follow me do so using my methods! Do not keep to shadows, but instead proclaim yourselves as proud defenders of law and order. Work with the police, and not against them. Do not kill the guilty; defeat them in their crimes and allow our system to put them to trial.

Do as I ask, and I shall see to it that every police force in the country will cooperate with you in your capacity as an anonymous, concerned citizen. But those who murder again in my name shall receive a harsh reproach from me.

Her gamble worked. In the weeks that followed, the mystery men stepped out of the shadows and into costumes -- muted at first, and many based upon military or police uniforms, but gradually becoming more colorful. They reduced the lethality of their attacks, using billy clubs, hand-to-hand techniques, or in some cases adopting more unusual weapons as the bow & arrow or the fencing sword. Those who kept their guns, usually pistols, either left them for use only in emergency situations or became exceptional trick shots.

Silence kept her word. Using her many connections in state and federal government, the "Do-Good Statute" of 1921 made it legal for easily identifiable (i.e. costumed) and known (having a relationship with state, local, or federal law-enforcement) vigilantes to work with the police through an extension of citizen's arrest laws.

As quickly as it had come, the day of the mystery men had set. This was the dawn of the Costumed Crusader.

Next: The Golden Age

*Before anyone says that the Thompson SMG didn't enter military service until 1938, I have only one thing to add: This is Alternate History. The needs of the Mexican Campaign resulted in its early invention.

The character of Silence Do-Good is copyright Erin Palette 2011. All art in these sections is either public domain, or machinima from the City of Heroes MMO. I do not claim any ownership of art.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial- No Derivative Works 3.0 License.
Creative Commons License

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

WNW: Machine Civilization

This is possibly the greatest video in the history of all things ever. Although I kind of want to see it remixed with a Daft Punk song (like Harder/Better/Faster/Stronger).

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Muppet Mayhem

I've been blogging for over 4 years now, but I've never been asked to write a guest post on someone else's blog -- until today, where I wax eloquent about Muppets, Monty Python, subversive humor, and sketches that end suddenly.

While you're there, you would do well to check out the rest of Adam "Barking Alien" Dickstein's blog. All of March is Muppet Madness, and lately he's been putting together a Muppet RPG. Not only do I have the honor of being the first guest in a week of guest posts, but I've also contributed substantially to his game -- most notably with the rules regarding Guest Stars, which according to Adam were a thorn in his paw for quite some time.

Go forth, and fetchez la vache!

Shooting Gallery

Sorry about the erratic updates lately. I am going to finish the Silence Saga; it's just that, when I haven't been full of laziness and fail, I've been busy with other things. I'm trying to get back on track this week.

This Saturday, I managed to get out to the range again, and this time I took my pistol. It's a Ruger Bearcat .22 caliber revolver. .22's are a bit like potato chips; they're fun to shoot and you can't stop after just one. They're also a bit like marijuana, in that they're gateways to larger and more expensive guns. My mother gave me this gun last year, and it's what started me down the road of wanting, then buying, and then shooting firearms.

This is not my specific gun, but it's an excellent picture of it.

I have to tell you, this is a fun little gun. And I do mean little; as you can see by the pictures it's pretty small. This is a good thing for me, as my small hands have difficulty holding most pistols, but this is not only easy to grasp, it's comfortable.

It's also a very old gun. My mother bought it back in the 1950s, when she was living out on a farm in Texas. It's a single-action, which means I have to cock the hammer back each time I want to fire, but that also gives it a very, VERY light trigger pull. It also makes satisfying click-clickety-CLACK noises each time it's cocked. Everything about this pistol says "Cowboy," and if it wasn't such a tiny caliber it'd be great for gunfights.

But hey, gunfighting is all about shot placement, right? And a small caliber means very little recoil, which means better shot groups and faster time to reacquire your target. This gun is also very easy to aim, as if it's a natural extension of my hand. This is what I was able to accomplish at 7 yards:

OK, you can probably argue that my shot groups aren't nice and tight, but I counter with A) I am a caffeine junkie and you should see how my hands shake on a regular basis, and B) all of my shots were within the 9 ring or better so STFU.

After a while, though, I started to get a bit bored because it was too easy, so rather than just waste ammunition when I knew I could hit the target,  I went for some headshots:

Booyah, bitches. That's a three-inch radius shot group. A bit high and to the left of where I was aiming (seems to be a common problem with me), but I rule ass regardless. And, as Max Brooks has told us, a .22 to the head is superior for zombie-killing.

Having firmly established my awesomeness when it comes to targets at 7 yards, I moved to the 15 yard mark. I immediately noticed a problem: while I could see the target just fine, it was damned hard to see where I had hit it. .22s make small holes, and small holes on dark paper at 45 feet are nearly impossible to determine. So I just blazed away (I had brought a box of 500 rounds, so I could've shot all day if necessary) and when the range went cold I inspected my target.

Making a note here: HUGE SUCCESS

Okay, I probably couldn't pull off a headshot at this range (and didn't even try) but this is a respectable result for 45 feet away, through iron sights, with shaky hands and crappy vision. I declared this a triumph and went home.

Not sure which gun I'll take with me the next time I hit the range -- either the shotgun or the Mosin-Nagant. Which do you think I should take, readers?

Thursday, March 24, 2011


I'm so eager to see what the spambot will make of that title, I'm practically giddy.

Anyway. I'm sure most of you have made contributions to help Japan in the wake of their disaster, and are probably sick of hearing about it, but I beg a few moments of your time as I pimp out a friend of mine by the name of Joe Johnson.

This is his latest work. Isn't it awesome? It has a real John Berkey vibe to it. I like it so much that I've asked for a print of it. As you can see, my friend is immensely talented and if there was any justice in this world he would be immediately hired by a publishing company to paint the covers of science-fiction paperback anthologies. But I digress...

John has a friend who has set up a not-for-profit organization which is selling t-shirts and other assorted swag items. 100% of all profits will be donated to the Red Cross and other disaster relief organizations. This is awesome for a number of reasons:
  • Because the money goes to the Red Cross, it will help whomever needs it. Countries other than Japan were hurt in the quake, so if they need it more, they get it. 
  • You get a shirt to clothe your body and put off laundry for another day. 
  • Joe designed this logo for the effort and it's now on a bunch of shirts, mugs, bags, etc. If his stuff sells, that's something he can put on his resume to help him find gainful employment. 
So, in conclusion: Donate money, help people, get a shirt, help an artist. That's a heck of a deal. 

Thanks for reading.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Strange and Storied History of Silence Do-Good, part 6: Rise of the Mystery Men

It is a sad irony of this timeline that even though the actions of Silence Do-Good made it a better world than our own, this very goodness made the awfulness of the First World War so much worse, if for no other reason than there was so much more to lose. And lose the world did: the Great War lasted until 1920, slaughtering nearly an entire generation of European men and hastening the economic downfall of the United States.

Upon the surrender of the Mexican government in August 1920, Silence was classified as a strategic asset and recalled to Washington D.C. where, pending future conflicts, she would remain hidden. Mothballed until the next war, she was once again relegated to analysis of intelligence data, this time on behalf of the Departments of State, Justice, and War in the hope that her superior abilities of cognition and memory would be able to predict and prevent another such conflict. Ever the dutiful daughter, Silence complied, but even though she had been put into deep storage as a secret weapon, her actions during the Great War would have lasting repercussions.

As American soldiers returned home from the Mexican Front, they found a different world than one they had left. Many of them suffered from shell-shock, as post-traumatic stress disorder was known, and had turned to alcohol to deaden their pain even while still at war. These same men, who had fought and bled for their country, were not only able to properly reintegrate into society, but also forbidden the solace of drunkenness by that selfsame society (ironically, it was the high alcoholism of injured and discharged soldiers, and the drunken disturbances they caused, that was one of the contributing factors for Prohibition in the first place).

In addition, the streets were no longer safe. Moonshiners and bootleggers rose to fill the gap in the black market. Organized crime was on the rise, as was petty violence. And above it all rose the spectre of depression, looming just over the horizon, fueling desperate notions of theft and fraud.

Some of these former soldiers fell into a dissolute lifestyle as petty criminals or hired muscle for organized crime. Some just tried to adapt as best they could to a world that had changed without them. But a very select few knew what had to be done, and possessed both the courage and the ability to make those changes.

The War Department had been able to censor letters and reports mentioning Silence Do-Good, but silencing the hundreds of men who had served under and fought beside her in her role as Col. Cudgel was impossible. They knew what a living force of liberty could do, having seen greatness firsthand. She was an inspiration to them, a role-model, a symbol more powerful than the Statue of Liberty because she was a real person. Silence Do-Good had moved among them, talked with them, led them and cared for them. She had sheltered them from harm and cried for their losses. She was symbol, mother, and country all rolled into one, and in true fulfillment of Benjamin Franklin's dream, many men decided that no, their term of service had not ended; it had in fact only begun. They took their Colt pistols or Springfield rifles or Thompson submachineguns out of their closets, turned up the collars on their trenchcoats, put their fedoras low on their heads, and went out into the world to make Mama Silence proud.

They began operating small-scale at first, cleaning up their neighborhoods of criminals and ne'er-do-wells. Some worked in pairs, and in Chicago the legendary "Quiet Men" were a group of three brothers, but for the most part they were solo. Some took jobs as police officers or private detectives to pay the bills and give them better crime-fighting tools, but at least one cavalry officer was from a rich family and could dedicate his life to his newest passion.

Their early work was often indistinguishable from gangland warfare, because they were soldiers first and foremost; they knew how to kill, brutally and effectively. This had the unfortunate side-effect of escalation of force, as organized crime responded to what it thought was another group muscling in on its turf. The death toll rose, as did collateral damage.

But all of this changed on November 15th, 1920. With her access to FBI reports and her powers of earth perception, Silence knew that another war was about to erupt in America -- a gang war that would engulf entire cities. She knew that some of "her boys" were responsible, and acting in emulation of her ideals. But they were soldiers, and their actions were only making things worse. They needed a leader. They needed her.

And on that cold day in November, for the first time in her life, Silence Do-Good disobeyed orders.

Next: Costumed Crusaders

The character of Silence Do-Good is copyright Erin Palette 2011. All art in these sections is either public domain, or machinima from the City of Heroes MMO. I do not claim any ownership of art.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial- No Derivative Works 3.0 License.
Creative Commons License

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Debarchery's Guide to Debauchery

Oh, hi there!

My name is Debarchery, and St. Patrick's Day is one of my favorite days to go out drinking. It ranks right up there with New Year's Eve, Cinco de Mayo, and any day ending with the letter "Y". But Saint Paddy's is special, because on March 17 we drink while wearing green! Isn't that fantastic?

But sadly, some of you guys just don't know how to properly celebrate this most sacred of drinking holidays. Therefore, tonight I'm going to give you some helpful hints on how to conduct a successful debauch. You've probably read advice from so-called "experts" on how to party safely. But do any of them have the God of Wine as their crazy uncle? No? Then fuck 'em and listen to me.

Rule 1:  Drink, yeh wee fuckin' pussy!

St. Patrick's Day is for drinking, so get your drink on, drunkie. Don't try to pace yourself -- dive headfirst into the swimming pool of alcohol that is before you! Chug, chug, chug, and chug some more. Belching is healthy because it frees up valuable space in the stomach that can be used to hold more booze. Especially skilled drinkers can hold drinking contests where the best belch earns them a free drink. If you have this ability, then grab that teat and milk it for all it's worth!  FREE BOOZE WOOOHOOOO!

Rule 2: Food is your enemy

Food and booze are mortal enemies, and if you mix them then the food will try to kill the booze inside your stomach, so do not, under any condition, drink on anything less than an empty stomach. Besides, food in your tummy means less room for booze, and that's just wrong. That's sacrilege, that is. Worse, it's alcohol abuse!

Rule 3: Vomiting is good

This is the logical combination of rules 1 and 2 above.  If you are foolish enough to have food in your stomach, get that stuff out by any means necessary! Let 'em fight it out on the floor if you have to, but it is absolutely essential that you make room in your tummy for more tasty, tasty booze. Don't worry if you throw up even if you haven't eaten anything -- this is perfectly natural. It's your body's way of saying that it's bored with what you're currently drinking and it would like to try something else. This is the perfect opportunity to switch from beer to whiskey!

Rule 4: An empty glass is a bad glass

Naughty, naughty empty glass! You have two options in this case. You can try to rehabilitate this bad boy by refilling it, but I gotta warn you that the recidivism rate is pretty damn high. Or you can send it off to prison and order a fresh new glass full of happy-juice! This is by far the preferred option.

Rule 5: If you aren't wasted, you're doing it wrong

Remember that tonight, getting shitfaced is your sacred duty. Don't commit a sin against Saint Patrick, who died for your right to get utterly wasted. How'd he die? Um, I think he swallowed a bunch of snakes or something, and then drowned in a vat of Guinness.... but that's beside the point! FOCUS, PEOPLE!

The ONLY point of St. Patrick's Day is getting drunk. It's not about having a good time, or meeting fun people, or going home with a 10 who turns into a 1 at 8am tomorrow. 

So drink, yeh basterds! DRINK FER ST. PADDY!

Join us tomorrow for Asclepius, god of medicine, and his top ten hangover cures.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Strange and Storied History of Silence Do-Good, part 5: All Silent on the Mexican Front

It is beyond the scope of this article to give an exhaustive account of the military operations that occurred along the American Front of World War 1. It is hoped that an overview of Silence Do-Good's actions within the Mexican Theatre, along with excerpts from her journals, will give a sense of the flow of history. Further study is left as an exercise for the interested reader.

March 9, 1916
For the first time in over a hundred years, American soil was violated by a hostile invading force and her citizens killed. I do not rightly know how I knew such had occurred; I credit both Providence and my perceptum terrarum in this regard. With much haste I left the Canal Zone, transiting forthwith unto the disturbance.

A mighty rage came upon me as I saw a detachment of the Mexican Army, at least 500 strong, assaulting American soldiers and townsfolk alike. The soil of our nation itself responded to my rage, offering up great boulders which I in my fury reached down, seized, and threw like gargantuan cannonballs. These shattered with great force among the Mexican cavalry, scattering them and breaking their charge.

The officers responded by turning their artillery upon my position, and the land rose up to protect me from harm. Gevurah surged within me and I became, in that moment, fully what my father had intended. As the Golem of Prague had defended the Jews of the ghetto, so did I finally become the Golem of America.

I strode among them unharmed. I desired something with which to smite them, and the land responded, creating a mighty granite cudgel which I wielded with both hands. I challenged them, and they trembled; I struck the ground, and they fell.

I smote them, and they died.

God help me, I ended their lives and do not regret my actions. I fear for them, and what I must do to them. I fear what I have become.

March 10, 1916
We are at war with Mexico. God help us all.
Silence at her enlistment (and subsequent commissioning) ceremony, 1916
March 11, 1916
At the behest of President Wilson and General Pershing, I have joined the war effort. I tried to argue that the army was no place for a lady, and to my chagrin was reminded of my quite unladylike historical activities. Sometimes I forget that I am not a real woman of flesh and bone, but a tool forged in the fire of rebellion. But I shall honor my nation and the desires of my father. Today, this tool became a weapon of war and enlisted with the Punitive Expeditionary Force, swearing an oath before God and Country to serve until discharged.

I was both honored and amused to be immediately brevetted to the rank of Colonel and attached directly to Gen. Pershing's HQ unit. The men refer to him as "Black Jack"; apparently I am to be known in official documents as "Col. Cudgel." I look forward to discovering how the Secret Service shall keep my identity secret from the men who serve under me.

It is of interest to note that it was not the Secret Service, but rather the War Department censors, who kept her identity hidden from the public. Official dispatches and personal letters home, from enlisted to officer, were scrutinized and all references to Silence -- including use of her powers, or even errant uses of the pronoun "she" when referring to Col. Cudgel, were redacted.

This secrecy proved rather difficult to implement after the war, as demobilized soldiers could not be prevented from talking. But that is a dilemma for a later time...

March 15, 1916
We have invaded Mexico. I find it odd that invading another nation does not feel especially different from any other stroll in the desert.

It is obvious the men know who I am, but are polite enough not to discuss it in front of me. They are nice boys, and I worry how many of them will die.

Ides of March, indeed.

The following are excerpts from correspondence and reports throughout the campaign.

I do not care for General Pershing's aide. He is stubborn, hot-headed, and dangerous. Mark my words, this Lieutenant Patton shall come to a bad end, and I can only hope he does not take many with him.

We have pursued the Mexican Army into the foothills of the Sierra Madres. Following them is a death sentence, but what choice do we have? Both General Pershing and myself are uneased by an army that neither stands and fights nor routs, but instead withdraws deeper into their country.

Today I learned the true meaning of "taking point." The men learned the true meaning of "taking cover." When being shot at, many of them become as little boys and hide behind my figurative skirts. It is fortunate for them that my skirts are large and bulletproof.

Even though we vastly outnumber the Mexican forces, they continue to pick us off a few at a time. They lure us into bad terrain, trap us, and then fade away. They mean to win this war by inches and hours, and damn them for the effectiveness of their ignoble tactics.

The growing feeling of unease was soon to be proven correct.

May 5, 1916
General Arámbula, it is un-Christian to hate a man as much as I do you. Pray that I am not the one who finds you. We are commanded to love our enemies but I can find no charity in my heart for a monster.

We have been duped, and damn me for a fool for not seeing it sooner. Whilst we were pursuing Mexican forces through the mountains, and taking heavy fire from the body which was luring us further away, the main body of their army crossed the border into Texas, assaulting and occupying the city of El Paso. My heart cried out to defend my country but I could not abandon my post and leave the men in my command to die.

Today I carried a field gun over my shoulder, as I would an errant lamb, and strode into the killing zone. Immediately upon taking fire I emplaced it and the men sheltering behind me fired it. Artillery as a direct-fire weapon is crude but undoubtedly effective. If I have to level every square inch of these mountains to defeat Arámbula then I shall. If I must flatten all of Mexico to bring this monster to justice, then I shall. To judge the murderer of a city I shall shake the very pillars of heaven itself.
Just see if I do not.

May 14, 1916
I still do not like Lt. Patton, but he is effective, albeit in a rough manner. Today he and a small force of men raided a house in San Miguelito and after a short but vicious battle was able to kill a high-ranking general in the Mexican army. What is most troubling is that he reported hearing shouts of German as several white men fled the scene. General Pershing thinks that Imperial Germany is supplying Mexico with military advisors and war matériel. I am inclined to agree.

The revelation clarifies a mystery. HQ could not understand why an educated Mexican general, by all reports and scholar and a gentlemen, would act as a common border bandit. It is now obvious that the initial assault was a test of our defenses, and their withdrawal a means of luring us from our fortifications. Were we any lesser unit, the Punitive Expedition would have been caught in enfilade and slaughtered. I thank Providence that my presence here grants us greater defensive capacity.

We have dug in and fortified our position with barbed wire and trenches. With the National Guard garrisoning our southern border and the draft instated, more Americans will soon be flowing south to reinforce us with infantry, heavy artillery, cavalry and these experimental "tanks."  Now it is the Mexican army which is flanked between our fortifications and our advancing heavy units.

We are no longer the Punitive Expeditionary Force. We are now the vanguard of the American Army along the Mexican Front, and soon we shall be pushing towards Mexico City. The Great War has met us, and found us ready to fight.

Sadly, this is the last existing journal entry, as Silence started a new diary soon thereafter, which was subsequently lost during the campaign. Here is a brief timeline of the war:

June 21, 1916: An exceptionally bloody battle is fought between Mexican and American forces in the town of Carrizal. The "Massacarizal," as it became known by the journalists of the day, helps fuel anti-American sentiment. Germany expresses its support for Mexico and begins openly supplying military advisors and ammunition, including poison gas.

September 25, 1916: Commencement of Operation Valence begins. It is a three-pronged assault designed to penetrate deeply into the heart of Mexico while simultaneously denying it critical resources.
  • Force Indigo, a naval battlegroup out of New York City, bombards the port of Veracruz before landing marines to occupy what is left of the city. This breaks the critical supply chain between Mexico and Germany and gives a beachhead for American forces to attack westward into the interior of the country.
  • Force Ivory, a naval battlegroup from San Franciso, similarly assaults Puerto Vallarta (a much smaller municipality) and offloads army troops from passenger ships before moving south to secure the Panama Canal. The army forces drive east with the goal of meeting up with elements of Force Indigo just south of the capital.
  • Force Crimson, led by General Pershing and supplemented with planes from Army Air Corps, drives south towards Mexico City. Forces Indigo and Ivory form the anvil; Crimson is the hammer.

October 1916 - May 1920:  This has been dubbed "The Great Southward Slouch" due to the speed at which the American forces made progress. To illustrate the fatigue in this campaign, imagine every World War 1 movie you have ever seen, with the trenches and barbed wire and machine guns and huge lumbering tanks and useless cavalry and endless artillery barrages and liberal use of poison gas. Now add to that having to fight through the tropical heat, with fatigue born from desert dehydration and jungle rot. Now add to THAT the extreme population density of central Mexico, specifically around the capital, and realize that before you can take the city you have to do something about all the people, because you don't want to kill civilians. If you let them go, they could escape behind your supply lines and wage guerrilla war upon your rear-echelon elements, but if you bottle them up then you are just increasing the density of defenders around your final goal.

May 18th, 1920: The Siege of Mexico City. Exhausted by the Southward Slouch, supply lines stretched to bursting, the American forces decide to simply dig in around the capital and let the punishing summer heat take its toll upon the natives.

Generals Obregon, Arámbula and Pershing, at the Surrender of Mexico, 1920.

August 8, 1920: The population of the city rioting due to lack of water, the nation of Mexico surrenders. Wilson does not demand land concessions or reparations, and seeks only a stronger and more formalized border between the U.S. and Mexico. This is due largely to the fact that the economies of both nations are nearly in ruins, and more territory for the U.S. would result in more citizens to feed and clothe and more infrastructure to repair. The only exception to this is a large U.S. Naval base permanently stationed at Veracruz. General Arámbula is imprisoned here, where he is tried for war crimes. He is eventually found guilty and executed by firing squad in 1921.

October 12: The last occupying American forces return home. Thousands of men, suffering from shell-shock and alcoholism, try to reintegrate back into the work force. Many of them fail. More than a few of these men have managed to hold onto their rifles.

Prohibition is enacted. Organized crime rises. Violent criminals become the norm. And many of these men, trained to fight but unable to fit in, who served with the mythical Silence Do-Good, decide to follow in her footsteps...

Next: Rise of the Mystery Men

The character of Silence Do-Good is copyright Erin Palette 2011. All art in these sections is either public domain, or machinima from the City of Heroes MMO. I do not claim any ownership of art.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial- No Derivative Works 3.0 License.
Creative Commons License

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Strange and Storied History of Silence Do-Good, part 4: A Butterfly Flaps its Wings

We have arrived at the point in our narrative where divergent history truly catches up with us.

In 1814, Silence Do-Good saves the Library of Congress from a fire, and a butterfly flaps its wings. Early American government is just slightly better off than in our own timeline; congress has better information upon which to make its decisions. America, as a whole, is slightly smarter and slightly better off, the benefits of which radiate outward...

In 1865, Silence Do-Good becomes America's first "computer", analyzing countless streams of intelligence and counter-intelligence data, and a butterfly flaps its wings. The infrastructure for national law enforcement is laid at an earlier time, and better communication is encouraged...

In 1905, Silence Do-Good takes over the construction of the Panama Canal in all but name, and a butterfly flaps its wings. Fewer deaths occur due to industrial accident and the canal opens earlier than in our timeline; those workers return to their families with more money, and increased trade improves the economies on both sides of the canal...

All of these changes, added up, have produced a world where Mexico is better off economically than in our timeline, due to profits from inter-oceanic trade flowing upwards from Panama, and improved relations with the United States. As a result, a young boy named José Arámbula did not grow up as an impoverished peasant in the Mexican state of Durango; instead, he grows up in the much richer (and much closer to the U.S.) state of Chihuaha. With the benefits of proper nutrition and better education, he does not become a petty bandit who joins the army in desperation; he instead is inducted into the Officer's Corps after graduation, and rises to the rank of General of el División del Norte (Division of the North).

Pancho Villa -- bandit, revolutionary, ruthless dictator -- never exists. Instead, the honorable José Doroteo Arango Arámbula -- soldier, scholar, gentleman -- takes his place. A butterfly flaps its wings....

Halfway around the world, Imperial Germany's Merchant Navy is thriving. Larger and more profitable, its trade with China and other nations opened to it through the Panama Canal, increases German prosperity. Its colonies in the Pacific, long-neglected since their creation by Bismarck in the 1880s, likewise begin to thrive as commercial ports-of-call. Indeed, all of Europe enjoys increased prosperity. A butterfly flaps its wings...

All this flapping was bound to create a hurricane eventually. Ironically enough, when Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip assassinates Archduke Franz Ferdinand and ignites the First World War, the result is even worse because there is so much more to lose.

A brief history lesson: in our timeline, America was neutral throughout most of World War 1, due mostly to the efforts of President Woodrow Wilson. Two events conspired to provoke American involvement: the sinking of the RMS Lusitania by a German U-Boat in 1915, and the Zimmermann Telegram of 1917.

The sinking of the Lusitania was a tragedy which resulted in a death toll of 1,198 out of 1,959 souls aboard (128 of them American), but Wilson's administration chose to view it as an accident, rather than an act, of war. But the Zimmermann Telegram, sent by the Germans to Mexican diplomats and intercepted by British Intelligence, changed the tenor of American perception of the German war effort:
"We intend to begin on the first of February unrestricted submarine warfare. We shall endeavor in spite of this to keep the United States of America neutral. In the event of this not succeeding, we make Mexico a proposal of alliance on the following basis: make war together, make peace together, generous financial support and an understanding on our part that Mexico is to reconquer the lost territory in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. The settlement in detail is left to you. You will inform the President of the above most secretly as soon as the outbreak of war with the United States of America is certain and add the suggestion that he should, on his own initiative, invite Japan to immediate adherence and at the same time mediate between Japan and ourselves. Please call the President's attention to the fact that the ruthless employment of our submarines now offers the prospect of compelling England in a few months to make peace." Signed, ZIMMERMANN
While Imperial Germany had hoped that a war with Mexico would delay American involvement in the European Theatre, the telegram instead accelerated it. Mexico had no desire to go to war with the vastly stronger United States, and later that year America joined the fight against Germany.

But what if Mexico was a stronger power, and Imperial Germany had the resources -- money, war matériel, advisers -- to make this a realistic notion? What if the Zimmermann Telegram was sent years earlier, and not intercepted by Britain? And what if, instead Pancho Villa the bandit, there was General Arámbula to invade the United States?

For a start, there would not have been a Punitive Expedition (aka the Pancho Villa Expedition) into Mexico. In our timeline, Villa invaded Columbus, NM in 1916-- a raid which soon became a full-fledged battle between Villa's forces and those of the U.S. Army. In response, the United States sent a force led my General John J. Pershing into Mexico, whose mission was to capture or kill Villa. Ten months later, however, Villa remained un-captured, and Pershing was transferred to the European theatre and his expedition recalled.

But this timeline had two things ours did not: a better-trained, better equipped Mexican Army, and Silence Do-Good. Instead of a year-long police action against guerrilla bandits, the assault upon Columbus was in fact the opening volley in a Mexican war against the United States, and the creation of a new line of hostilities in the First World War. Pershing and Arámbula became the Patton and Rommel of their time, and Silence was right in the thick of it.

View Larger Map

Next: All Silent on the Mexican Front

The character of Silence Do-Good is copyright Erin Palette 2011. All art in these sections is either public domain, or machinima from the City of Heroes MMO. I do not claim any ownership of art.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial- No Derivative Works 3.0 License.
Creative Commons License

The Fine Print

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial- No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Creative Commons License

Erin Palette is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to