That...could work. With a lot of armed guards. Economic growth wouldn't be great, but as long as they have a slave caste...possible. I think.

A religious obligation to help out your fellow betters helps pad things out in the event of economic shocks so that helps. When Goodyear Industries eventually starts automating it won't replace the inferiors, just build a bunch of robot guards to free up vigilant patriots to bolster RUMP and the ORRA.
 
Anything on the level of fanaticism of the soldiers of the regular military of the Republican Union? Have they reached Imperial Japanese Army-levels of fanaticism by this point?
 
Most regular soldiers are willing to do their duty, no matter the cost. They're more like Nazis or Soviets. ORRA is the kamikazi-level troops.

A religious obligation to help out your fellow betters helps pad things out in the event of economic shocks so that helps. When Goodyear Industries eventually starts automating it won't replace the inferiors, just build a bunch of robot guards to free up vigilant patriots to bolster RUMP and the ORRA.

Or they might realize that Inferior manual labor is "so last gen." You can guess where that might lead...
 

Worffan101

Gone Fishin'
Yep, and it's not like TTL's America had anywhere near OTL's amount of Catholic/Slavic/Irish immigrants. I'd say maybe 13 percent or so of the Union is Inferior? If that. America is largely just a militant theocratic fascist socialist dictatorship with a majority content population (for now).
the main problem the Union has is that fascism is really inefficient. Even with their cult brainwashing people all the way up--people work harder and are more efficient when they feel more free/in charge of their fate (yes, as someone with generally anarcho-socialist political views I am biased, but increasing tyranny is correlated with increasingly rickety economies, from Nazi Germany to the USSR to Mao's China), and you can only send people who figure out how to think to the re-education camps so many times before you run out of smart people.

Bah, I shouldn't overthink this, this is the USA's crazy cartoonishly evil twin, not "let's make the most realistic evil superpower possible".
 
Fair enough, but I imagine that by *WW2, they've reached IJA-levels of fanaticism.

Not gonna blow plotlines, but I'd believe so.

I COMPLETELY FORGOT ABOUT THORN! IT'S PERFECT! This timeline kicks so much ass

I've considered having it become a popular Yankee way to shorthand "TH". It makes sense. Hell, I kinda wish I had painted "13Þ" on that helmet I made rather than "13th," lol. It could be "stage 1" of some weird Anglo-Saxonification of the American dialect.


the main problem the Union has is that fascism is really inefficient. Even with their cult brainwashing people all the way up--people work harder and are more efficient when they feel more free/in charge of their fate (yes, as someone with generally anarcho-socialist political views I am biased, but increasing tyranny is correlated with increasingly rickety economies, from Nazi Germany to the USSR to Mao's China), and you can only send people who figure out how to think to the re-education camps so many times before you run out of smart people.

Bah, I shouldn't overthink this, this is the USA's crazy cartoonishly evil twin, not "let's make the most realistic evil superpower possible".

Honestly, I would say the Betters are "free." To them, at least. This TL has screwed up everything from politics to economics, to even just how people perceive "freedom." The USA never existed really. No Constitution. They don't know about REAL Liberalism, Marxism, Leninism, OTL Evolution, and so many other things. As far as the average Yankee sees it, the Union rose from the ashes of being backstabbed, freed the slaves, invented modern economics, took away "bad people," helps the poor, and now stands on the precipice of being a global superpower. The average Better has a pretty sweet ride. "Don't make waves and you'll live the American Dream." Which may or may not be a cynical nod to OTL stuff from pretty recent history...

But yes, the government behind the scenes is pretty hilariously evil. Like I've said before, I totally COULD write the most realistic dictatorship in America TL ever, but that's very depressing and boring. This TL's number one goal is to be Strangelovian and bizarrely funny and entertaining. I consider Kubrick to be tied with Lucas and Tolkien in my creative mind.
 
To go even further, it's not that far-fetched to think that the average Union citizen would, upon viewing OTL, viciously denounce it as a hellish dystopia the same way we do the Madnessverse.

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FRANKLY I FIND THE IDEA OF AN INFEE THAT HAS A SOUL OFFENSIVE.

Also, there would be the whole "Y'all ain't got the Prophet?" headsplosion. It's like showing the average Muslim a world where Muhammed never existed, or tell your Sunday School teacher there's a world where everyone worships Zeus still.
 
To go even further, it's not that far-fetched to think that the average Union citizen would, upon viewing OTL, viciously denounce it as a hellish dystopia the same way we do the Madnessverse.
That would be incredibly funny, though the average Europan would probably be ambivalent on OTL as on one hand, the world is spared the nightmare of the "Republican Union" but on the other hand, Napoleon was defeated.
 

Worffan101

Gone Fishin'
Honestly, I would say the Betters are "free." To them, at least. This TL has screwed up everything from politics to economics, to even just how people perceive "freedom." The USA never existed really. No Constitution. They don't know about REAL Liberalism, Marxism, Leninism, OTL Evolution, and so many other things. As far as the average Yankee sees it, the Union rose from the ashes of being backstabbed, freed the slaves, invented modern economics, took away "bad people," helps the poor, and now stands on the precipice of being a global superpower. The average Better has a pretty sweet ride. "Don't make waves and you'll live the American Dream." Which may or may not be a cynical nod to OTL stuff from pretty recent history...

But yes, the government behind the scenes is pretty hilariously evil. Like I've said before, I totally COULD write the most realistic dictatorship in America TL ever, but that's very depressing and boring. This TL's number one goal is to be Strangelovian and bizarrely funny and entertaining. I consider Kubrick to be tied with Lucas and Tolkien in my creative mind.
Figured as much. I'm gonna do my best to throw plausibility rivet-counting out the window and just enjoy the insanity. Fully expecting Oswald to promise at one point or another to build a big beautiful wall to keep the Inferiors out.

The really hilarious part? When I was trying to come up with the Mirror Universe counterpart of the NUSA, the only thing I could imagine was an equally weird and alien society that is addicted to Leviticus 19:34, Romans 14:1-23, and Malachi 3:5. Had to go to my Presbyterian paternal grandparents for help finding the right bits because I'm an atheist myself and only read the Bible once, lol, but seriously--you created something so insane that even turning it inside out still produces something nuts.
 
CHAPTER 54
I couldn't help it. I HAD to write about the Mr. Tobias Institute. I think this is one of the best chapters ever. And it literally gave me the creeps writing it. lol Again, there is no "supernatural" ITTL, so no ASBs, but there is just an underlying creepy tendency of weirdos to say the right thing which could be taken as prophetic. I like to think that people ITTL have just as many weird history channel documentaries as we do. lol Also, I think this entire chapter is made doubly-interesting when you realize it's basically Rasputin in OTL WWI, but instead it's Mr. Tobias.


CHAPTER 54
A TRIP TO THE POCONOS

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George Armstrong Custer sat in the back of his 1910 Colonel Ford as the black autocarriage made its way up the winding roads of the Poconos Mountains. He was going to visit one of the most respected men in American history to see if the time was right for his next great endeavor as President. George was 71 now, his famed long blonde locks having since become a white undercut. He still sported his mustache, though it drooped a little more than it used to. The old man, wearing a plain black suit and tie instead of his typical garish military garb, sat on the leather backseat of the auto and puffed on a cigarette. It was his twelfth that day. The stress of managing the entire country had gotten to him. The stress of remaining the strongest Strong Man had gotten to him. But he still held power, as determined as ever to see his vision of America fulfilled. He was bound and determined to take all of North America before the Reaper came. He knew he might not have much time left, and he knew he was now at an impasse. He paused his train of thought to hack and cough, rolling down the window and spitting some mucus out on the crudely-paved road. He threw out the cigarette, a Morton's Finest. In a few minutes, he would pull out another Morton's and light up. He knew something about smoking was killing him, he just didn't know what or how much time he had left.

That was why he had ordered his driver to take him up Pennsylvania's Poconos Mountains to see his old friend, thought the man was more "old" than "friend" and more "ancient" than "old." The fact that the Blind Christian Gentleman Mr. Tobias, Charles Marx's famed "assistant" was still alive was nothing short of a miracle. In all his life, George had never met a man more bizarre or mind-boggling peculiar. He was also as mean and vicious as a viper, his tongue seeming to make up for the fact that his eyes had been blinded in the Great American War. The old Englishman had volunteered to fight for the Union against the South, and then artillery bursts met eyeballs, Fundamentalism met Mr. Tobias, and sanity left the building. Tobias had been running a meditation lodge when he had met Charlie Marx, and together they had founded Spiritual Marxism. Marx had crossed over to the Other Side in 1885, leaving Mr. Tobias without his only constant companion. Since Marx's death, the Blind Christian Gentleman had busied himself being George's adopted son Michael's rather testy personal tutor. Michael had hated the old man with a burning passion, but at least he taught him how to be a man.

George poured himself a shot of whiskey. He always had a small box mounted behind the driver's seat with his favorite drink. You never knew when you might want to get drunk when you were President of the Republican Union. George just knew it was "often." He tried to only take a sip, though, still wanting his senses for this important meeting. Normally the President would travel in a huge caravan, flanked left and right by his protective detail, sirens blaring until he would tell them to shut off their "damn noisemakers." He didn't want to have a cadre of buffoons following him, though, and so he was able to drink and think in peace on the way there.

How he hated the constant sea of ticks that followed him everywhere, always hailing him, always snapping to attention, always syrupy-sweet and polite, all the while trying to get him to sign onto their policies or help them undermine this or that political enemy. When he was a younger man, George would have had them all crying on the floor or shot the moment they annoyed him, but he was tired now. He was tired of politics. He just wanted to finish his goal of uniting North America and then pass the torch onto the next generation. But everywhere he looked was some national under-chief of this or that, or some party adjutant to the secretary's bookkeeper waiting to ambush him with a barrage of complaints or pleas for help. He lit up another Morton's, taking a drag in between sips from the glass of whiskey. He sighed aloud as he thought about all the political parasites trying to suck him dry. If he had the energy tomorrow, maybe he would have them all taken to the center atrium of the Capitol Building and shot. He'd probably be downing pills and barely being able to piss worth a damn, though.

As Custer gazed out the window of the Ford, in the distance he could see the silhouette of the Institute come into view, breaking through the rain and fog. It was an impressive construct, a veritable castle, with a massive complex that cut into the mountains itself and spider-webbed out into an endless amount of tunnels and secret passages. It was the Tobias Institute, the Church-built fortress of the Blind Christian Gentleman himself. Reverend-Colonel Moody had begun construction of the castle, but progress had been slow. Since Reverend-Colonel Sunday had taken over as head of the Church, however, the castle was almost complete. Not only was it the abode of Mr. Tobias and his cloister of antisocial acolytes, it was also the new home of the Church Chief Demonologist, the Church Chief of Christian Magicks, and the Church Council on Studies of the Other Side, all of which were headed by Mr. Tobias until his time would come to leave the physical realm and the Reverend-Colonel would appoint successors for each position as separate jobs. But, while he remained alive, there was none greater in the Church aside from the Reverend-Colonel, none more well-versed in the dark arts, than the Blind Christian Gentleman.

The gray steeples and spires of the Institute cut through the sky like stone teeth. Even though the structure was barely 20 years old at his oldest cornerstone, the building seemed to have stood forever. George could imagine Royalists crashing up against the main entrance, its Cromwellite defenders holding out to the last man. He could almost see Martin Luther dining on beer and cheese in the shadows of its walls. But, though a holy site, the building had a rather off-putting look to it. It gave George anxiety just looking at the monstrosity. There was something almost malevolent about it. A peculiar whiff of darkness that could not be shaken. George tried to tell himself it was designed that way to ward off any potential nosy mountaineers and to put the fear of Jehovah into Inferiors. He took another drag off the Morton's and downed the rest of the whiskey. Maybe he did want to be drunk right now.

A few minutes later, after continuing toward the Institute, the Colonel Ford came to a stop in front of a massive barricade. On each side of the road ran a huge stone wall, topped with barbed wire. Straddling the road were two stone turrets, equipped with coffee grinders at the top. A yellow pole was placed across the road with word "STOP" painted on it in bold red letters. The pole was the only color on the Institute's palette besides brown, dark green, and gray it seemed. There were three men in dark red uniforms standing at attention on the base-level, next to the pole. They wore gray pinch-crown hats and their crimson uniforms were decorated only with a badge bearing a cross above the right breast pockets and a white stripe running down the side of their riding pants. Lace-up jackboots finished their look. Each man sported a revolver, a carbine, and a dead-eyed look on their face. They were Church Zealots, the Church's personal security troops.

The Zealots acted almost uninterested by the fact that the Colonel Ford in front of them bore the pennants of the President above the front wheel-wells. The one who seemed to be in charge walked over to the driver's window and saluted. "All hail!" he said with unexpected vigor as he clicked his heels and extended his right hand. "What is your purpose here?" The man was good, thought George. He went from vigor to dead-eyed once again in an instant.

The driver, a tubby fellow in a tuxedo vest and black kepi raised his hand back as much as he could inside the auto and flipped out a paper with official stamps. "I am transporting President Custer. He wishes to have an audience with the Blind Christian Gentleman Mr. Tobias."

The guard took the paper in his white-gloved hand, quickly reading it before handing it back. "Very well. The Blind Christian Gentleman is in the southern keep meditating. Proceed on through the barricade to the eastern entrance just up ahead, then turn left. I should warn you gentlemen that the Church Council on Studies of the Other Side is cloistered today, and it might be best to leave them in peace. All hail!"

Custer sighed again as the emotionless goon saluted and quick-stepped back to the big yellow pole and lifted it using a crank. Custer hated how some of the Church felt that the Presidency was "beneath" them. He was the damn President of the Republican Union and if he so desired to disturb the pious madmen inside the castle he should be able to! But here was this snot-nosed stooge, acting like he didn't even exist. "Dammit, Carl," George said to the driver as they continued on their drive. "I'm the Defender of the Faith and they act like I'm not even worth a rat's ass."

Carl looked unbothered, as he was used to hearing Custer complain about things. "Maybe you should have them shot, sir. Or perhaps chained to a pole and fed to your bears."

Custer waved him off, "Nah, nah, it's fine, Carl. They are just so damn focused on holiness and piety that it almost makes me feel that the Church is in control. And the scuttlebutt has always been that I'm a pawn of the Council of Jehovah, and this sort of thing doesn't help."

The Colonel Ford slowed to a stop at the eastern entrance to the complex. More red-uniformed goons stood at attention. A few seconds after the vehicle stopped a loud clanking noise could be heard coming from the wall above. Slowly, the giant wooden doors swung open. The Colonel Ford rolled on. Finally, in front of a massive tower, the auto stopped for the last time. Carl got out and opened the back door for George to get out.

George stretched and blinked and brushed himself off as he exited the vehicle, donning his bowler hat to cover his thinning hair. He threw his cigarette on the ground and snuffed it out under his black and white ostrich- and gator-hide spectator shoe. Carl saluted and said, "I shall remain here with the vehicle, sir. I trust you shall send word for me if you have any need. I suspected you might wish to speak in privacy with the Blind Christian Gentleman, sir."

Custer patted the middle-aged man on the back and said, "You're a good man, Carl. One of the only I trust. But I don't want you burdened with the matters I must discuss here. Feel free to stroll, but remain nearby."

Custer walked up the marble steps to the doorway and was promptly let in by a Zealot. Inside, the Institute was even stranger than on the outside. Much stranger. The floor was black and white marble, and the walls were done in crimson paisley wallpaper with mahogany wainscoting, the ceiling some twenty feet high with huge chandeliers hanging from the support beam running through the center. Huge portraits hung on the walls in massive gilded frames. The first painting was of Christ, in a simple pose, his hands outstretched. His short brown hair and beard framed his pale skin, his green eyes seeming to follow your movement. Strange symbols were carved into the frame about the Christ, particularly an odd-looking cross in a circle. As Custer walked on, his heels clicking on the floor and echoing through the castle, he looked up at another portrait on the other side of the room. This one was the Prophet Aaron Burr kneeling in the snow of Valley Forge. In his arms was the body of Arnold the Martyr, his eyes rolled up and his blood turning the snow red. The Prophet wept, the tears gushing from his icey blue eyes. It moved Custer to see the actual anguish the artist was able to convey in the Prophet's face.

As Custer marched on down the seemingly endless corridor, more and more paintings hung on the walls. There was one of Father Lincoln, depicting him riding a massive white horse, and another of Father Franklin, lighting crackling all about him, his hair blowing in the wind of the maelstrom. There landscapes as well, such as one depicting the ash heap of Boston in the aftermath of the War of 1812. Another showcased the glories of the West, a herd of buffalo crossing a stream. The one that Custer couldn't make head or tails out of was one that was simply a all white with a central billowing cloud of gray mushrooming outward. It was some sort of surreal artwork that he didn't appreciate, surely, George thought, and carried on.

Finally, he rounded a corner and saw some thirty men in white blazers gathered around long mahogany tables, papers strewn all about. The look of the room was unchanged from the hallway aside from the greater width, obviously, and the massive stone fireplace above which sported a portrait of the Blind Christian Gentleman. Most of the men in white suits were calm, discussing matters of the afterlife and of Christian magick. It was the Church Council on Studies of the Other Side, mustered to deliberate on whatever bizarre topic they had chosen.

As Custer pressed on, trying not to get in the Council's way, a young man, thin as a stick and with a very long face, stepped in front of him. "All hail, your excellency!" the man said with a twitch. His eyes seemed dilated and the happiness in the greeting was not matched by the tight-lipped frown he sported. "THE WHORE IS NEAR UNTO READY, OH LORD!"

Custer took a step back, thinking the fellow was completely insane. "Uh, say what now? What whore?"

The main rubbed his hands together excitedly, jumping up and down and staring at nothing, making George feel he was looking through him. "The whore! The whore!" he said again, bouncing with each repetition of the word. "BABYLON. Yes, the Whore of Babylon. Babylon. Yes, Ishtar gathers her forces, how she anoints her chosen ANTICHRIST! Haha! Yes! The Great Dragon of the East appears, my sir, with his harpees and bugaboos! It is clear to me, it is clear to you, it is clear my mother and brother too, it is, yes sir. The time is nigh for the final battle against Ishtar and Bael, for thine is the kingdom of God! And Babylon did behold its fate, and as surely as Jehovah didst cast down the traitor Satan, so dost the Hand of God crush the serpent once more in the final days. For winter comes for Babylon, and death follows it."

The delusional young man kept hopping up and down, practically dancing, now sporting a huge, unnerving grin. Custer tried to push past, saying, "That's all fine and well but I need to talk to the Blind Christian Gentleman."

Instead of budging, the young man looked him straight in the eyes and stopped dancing. "The Blind Christian Gentleman needs to see you. To decide the world's fate. To tell you to fulfill prophecy!"

Custer was growing more and more upset, "Now listen here, I don't know exactly what in the hell you're talking about right now or how you knew the nature of my visit, but you better back off or I'll have you fed to the bears, you nutter!"

The Councilman threw himself on the floor, grabbing at Custer's feet and laying prostrate. "I'm so sorry, my sir! Our divine Atheling, servant of Christ, of course has little time for discussing the fate of man with a nobody. Forgive this acolyte's excitement! I merely wish to see the Old Ones banished to the pits of hell, my sir. Babylon! Ishtar! Bael and Moloch too! All burning and roasting, their minions burned like unto glass, blowing away like salt in the wind, sir. Like salt in the wind! I know it will be! I have been told!"

Custer stopped trying to push past at that last bit and asked, "You're telling me you are a prophet? That is the highest blasphemy, young man!"

The man rose to his knees and, still with the blank dilated eyes reflecting the chandelier lights, responded, "Oh no, oh no no! I am not a prophet, for that title belongs to the Prophet Burr alone, all hail is name! No, I do not understand what I am yet, my sir. My sir may ask what is the difference, but I just know I am not a prophet. I am not shown, I do not predict, I only hear. I hear the whispering in the darkest corners. In my sleep do I hear them telling me about the coming battle. When I rise they tell me too. When I eat at the dinner table the voices tell me too. Constantly whispering. How all shall be swept away before the righteous tide! How the Old Ones shall finally be destroyed and the Seed of the Pinnacle Man shall covereth the earth! I hear, my sir, so many things. But I do not see the future, or the past. I merely see the Void."

The hairs on the back of Custer's neck stood up. The man was genuinely terrifying, a stark raving lunatic as wild as any in the Philadelphia Sanitarium. "What did you just say?"

The gaunt man responded, not even flinching, "The Void. I have gazed into the abyss of nothingness. It is nothingness. It is eternal darkness. It is eternal peace, but in such darkness and nothingness what is peace from terror? What is terror from peace? What is abyss and darkness when the only thing about you is abyss and darkness? What is nothing? It is the Void, and I have seen it! I have seen it!" The main began laughing hysterically, slapping his knees and clapping his hands. This entire time, the other Councilmen seemed to pay him no attention. It was as if he didn't exist. Without so much as a goodbye, the crazed lunatic went scampering on, twirling in mid-air as he ran, his white blazer flapping behind him and reminding George of the straitjackets suicidals and homosexuals wore at the nuthouses.

George pointed at the man as he ran off and bellowed, "In the name of Father Abraham, get that man some damned electro-shock! What a complete wretch! Who was that idiot, anyway, and why does he speak in riddles?"

One of the other Councilmen turned and faced him and answered, "That is Brother Lovecraft. We do not know what has happened to the poor man. He was a perfectly charming young man before, the youngest man on the Council. Then one day he was just... gone. We are sorry if he made you uncomfortable, your excellency."

Custer was thrilled to talk to someone normal. He nodded and said, "Thank God someone who can speak American. Keep Brother Strangelove or whatever you called him off the streets, will you? In fact, keep him out of my sight!"

The Councilman bowed. "As you wish, sir."

After a few more minutes of walking, Custer finally came up to the inner sanctum, the home of Mr. Tobias himself. He knocked once on the door, saying, "I am here to the seek the wisdom of the Blind Christian Gentleman!"

A raspy English accent answered back. "Come in, Mr. President. I had foreseen your visit. I know why you have come."

As George let himself into the dimly lit room, he saw an old bald man in a dumpy-looking worn-out suit sitting alone on a chair. Though the man was blind, it was if Mr. Tobias could see Custer. George walked up to him, clicked his heels, and saluted. "All hail! To Jehovah be the Glory! It is good to see you, my old friend."

Mr. Tobias' eyes, almost white with cataracts, nodded and slowly raised his arm in salute as well. All in all, George thought, for a blind crippled 81 year-old he didn't do a terrible job of it. "I have come to seek the advice of the Blind Christian Gentleman!" Custer said, pulling up another chair to face the old man. "I feel the time has come for war. It is already raging in Europe. Europa and Russia are finally strangling each other. The Central Powers is ready to enforce Dutch neutrality. I feel that Quebec, Canada, and California are ours for the taking, but I would not dare take this country to war without consulting with the rock of the Church, the Blind Christian Gentleman."

Mr. Tobias seemed to look about the room, thought he was blind, and was lost in thought for a moment before springing back to action, saying, "I, too, feel this way. It is your destiny, George. You will unite North America under your flag, though you may not live to see the end of this holiest of wars. But American boots shall trod on Quebec and California. The Carolinas should be puppeted and slowly absorbed, but the Europan colonies are rightfully ours. Take up arm, George, for Jehovah will deliver these lands unto thee. I feel it. I know it. It is time."

Custer said a silent prayer to himself. "Very well, it is as I thought. I shall order the invasion. I thank you for your most valued advice. May I meditate with you, sir?" he asked the frail little Englishman.

"Yes," Mr. Tobias answered. "Meditate with me. For the Whore of Babylon is ready for the last battles."

The hair stood up on the back of George's neck again. He couldn't wait to get out of the Institute. It just gave him the creeps. But he found out what he had wanted to know. War it would be. A divine war of Manifest Destiny....


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