Title: Circumstance Of Victims
Word Count: 700
Name or Twitter Handle: Jeffrey Hollar @klingorengi
Content label : Safe For All
To the esteemed Jawarhalal Nehru:
Envision an India not a chattel state but an acknowledged partner of those nations dedicated to technological advancement and modern thought. Imagine an India with unquestioned sovereignty, freely exercising its right to self-determination unhindered by circumstances. To that end, our representative is prepared to meet with you to discuss what can be accomplished by dedicated men working toward common goals. If this proposal is amenable then raise and lower the window shades of your office at precisely noon today. By that signal will our agent proceed with our offer. Be advised that, should no signal be provided, you bid fair to doom your homeland to continue in its servile state likely for the remainder of your days.
The letter bore no signature or other identifying device and, at first, Nehru thought it to be an incredibly poor joke. Nevertheless, every fiber of his being cried out it was not. He had, for some time, been at polite but undeniable odds with the Mahatma. Though he respected the depths of his mentor’s belief in diplomacy and passive resistance, they often argued as to whether, at some point, more…aggressive measures might be called for.
As morning passed and the moment for decision was nigh, Nehru realized he was unwilling to dismiss any possibility for his homeland to achieve the greatness he knew was so deserved. No sooner had he lowered the blinds back when a knock came at his door.
The man who entered was of middle age, strongly built and dressed in a linen suit of Western cut. His skin was browned as one who had spent much time out of doors. He held himself at ease, setting down a large valise before offering a slight bow. Had Nehru felt astonished by the letter, a feather could have knocked him senseless at the realization of who this mysterious agent was.
“Why, you are…” Nehru stammered.
The man nodded curtly, “Yes, I am Joseph Rudyard Kipling and you are Jawarhalal Nehru. That being settled shall we get to the business at hand? Lest you wonder, my position as an author of some repute allows me travel to unaccustomed places and to meet with unexpected individuals without arousing undue suspicions. Now, have a seat and listen.” Nehru complied.
“I represent a consortium of men who feel it necessary to intervene in the matters of India. You are aware, I am sure, Misters Woodrow Wilson and David Lloyd George are no friends of India…nor, of late, of each other. Suffice to say those stinking Ottoman bastards bear you no good will either.” His grin was decidedly disconcerting.
Reaching into the valise, Kipling withdrew a single large rifle cartridge and what appeared to be an incredibly small telescope. “This bullet is .45 caliber and is fired from a rifle capable of firing five such without reloading. Fitted with this sighting scope here, that rifle can strike a target over half a mile away. The combination is courtesy of two of our dedicated membership…an American chap named Browning and an odd little Swiss fellow…Carl Zeiss, I believe.”
“Upon receipt of a coded telegram, our men on the ground will be dispatched to send a leaden message to the brain pans of Wilson, Lloyd George, a few Ottoman dignitaries and, likely, a dozen or so others just to muddy the waters a bit. It is our belief with no clear culprits to blame, the inevitable finger pointing and recriminations will provide an atmosphere of unparalleled uncertainty and discord in the world. We feel this confluence of events would present a…unique opportunity to a man with prior knowledge to exploit matters to his benefit. We feel you are such a man. Now, if we are mistaken, only say so and that will be that. Pray remember, though, we’ve placed ourselves in a most vulnerable position telling you of our…options. I am sure you must realize that would be a position we could not allow to exist if you decline our aid. I give you until morning to consider.”
Nehru sat pondering long into the night before, at length, convincing himself a deal made with the Devil could be made for the greater good.
This story was written for the Dirty Goggles Blog Hop sponsored by Jenn (Brewed Bohemian), Steven Paul Watson & Ruth Long. This is my first attempt at writing steampunk/dieselpunk and may or may not have hit the mark. It was, in any event, a LOT of fun and, if nothing else, is some darned intriguing alternative history.