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Chapter 1047 The Haunting Of Borneo
The deaths of nearly 50,000 men came as a shock to the Generals beneath Itami's command, however only the Empress of j.a.pan herself realized just how efficient biological warfare was. Some ground was gained in this stage of the war, as tens of thousands of j.a.panese soldiers threw themselves into the meat grinder, knowing that they were already dead from the affliction they suffered through.
However, without the j.a.panese being capable of fielding ample reinforcements to take advantage of this, the Royal Maj.a.pahit Army used this opportunity to reclaim ground which had been occupied by the Imperial j.a.panese Army. It was only with swift action via the use of costal bombardments and bombing campaigns that Itami was able to hold on to her newfound territory.
Before long, tens of thousands of more j.a.panese soldiers were tossed into Borneo, with thousands of men arriving each day, where they worked hard to retake the gains their predecessors had made. During this time, Itami did her best to mitigate the damage caused by the cholera outbreak by quarantining those with symptoms, and disposing of their bodies after they had perished with flamethrowers.
Some j.a.panese soldiers survived by confiscating anti-biotics from the trenches they invaded, while others evaded the deadly disease mostly by luck. What had been the cause for thousands of deaths on a weekly basis slowly trickled down to roughly a hundred in the same time frame.
Currently, a j.a.panese private by the name of Tanuma Morisada was tightly clutching his rifle in his hands while on a nightly patrol. He was one of many recent conscripts to join the War, and like so many others, he found that the jungles of Borneo were dreadfully frightening, especially after dusk.
Private Tanuma and his company had been sent deep into the jungle, to secure a trench line that had been abandoned after the last invasion force was nearly wiped out in its entirety. n.o.body knew what lay in this earthen fortification, but some said the spirits of the dead continued to haunt the jungles at night.
Most j.a.panese soldiers thought such a thing was nothing more than a scary story that their counterparts made up to entertain themselves. However, on this night, as Tanuma stalked through the Jungles beneath the moonlight, he and his fellow soldiers heard something mysterious.
In the distance, within the trenches, an eerie moan could be heard, followed by heavy sobbing. The j.a.panese soldiers immediately halted in their tracks as they heard this ghostly wail. Eventually, they heard voices spoken in the j.a.panese language, which spoke of being stuck in this mortal plane of existence, cursed forever to roam the lands where they had died in battle.
A cold sweat broke out across Tanuma's forehead as he called out the origin of this voice, his heart beating heavily as if he were about to have a heart attack in the very next second.
"Who is out there? Show yourselves!"
In the next moment, a transparent figure appeared in the distance, hovering in the air. It took the form of what could only be described as a wounded j.a.panese soldier, the sight of which caused the living soldiers to jump with fright as they aimed their weapons and fired towards the 'ghost'.
However, as if what they had just encountered was truly a wandering spirit, the bullets ran through the transparent figure without doing it the slightest harm. It then called out to its comrades and gave them a grim warning about their fates.
"Flee now! As I should have done, for if you stay here, you will join me in this accursed state! Doomed to wander the Jungles of Borneo for eternity!"
After witnessing this baffling scene, the j.a.panese soldiers threw down their arms and ran as fast as they could in the other direction. It was only after they disappeared that the 'ghost vanished'. In reality, this was not a haunting, but an illusion created by German field agents via the use of an illusion known in Berengar's past life as pepper's ghost.
As for the voice, it was a recording played loudly for the Imperial j.a.panese soldiers to hear. This was a clever method that German Imperial Intelligence had come up with to wage psychological warfare against the Imperial j.a.panese Army.
All over the jungles of northern Borneo, j.a.panese night patrols reported sights of these hauntings. Which in turn had inspired hundreds if not thousands of soldiers to strip out of their uniforms and desert their ranks.
When news of this ma.s.s desertion, and low morale spread to Empress Itami Riyo, she was extremely furious. Standing in the war room of her Palace in Heian-kyō, the Albino beauty was practically raging at her subordinates who were discussing how to make these restless spirits move on from this plane of existence.
If not for the fact that she had physically witnessed a living deity in the flesh, Itami never would have entertained such superst.i.tious nonsense. However, if deities existed, then perhaps ghosts did as well. The idea that her soldiers had come back from the dead, and had inspired her forces to break ranks and desert the Imperial j.a.panese Army, was not something that Itami took lightly.
As much as her own Generals pressured her to stop the night patrols, as morale was rapidly deteriorating as a result of these 'hauntings'. Itami was not entirely convinced that this was the work of the supernatural, and instead suspected it might be a trick by the opposition, specifically the agents of Germany, which she knew were embedded in the field.
After all, she remembered reading in the Westpoint library about a similar tactic being used by the CIA during the Vietnam war of her past life. Though they didn't manifest ghosts visually via illusions, they did play recordings of 'spirits' of the dead Vietnamese soldiers in the jungles as an attempt at psychological warfare.
In the modern era, this was generally seen as a failed attempt on behalf of the American Military, as the North Vietnamese soldiers and the Vietcong who such methods targeted knew that the voices didn't really belong to ghosts.
However, this was still the medieval era, and Itami had not done much to dispel the myths of Yokai, ghosts, and other fict.i.tious monsters among her population. Thus, they were far more likely to believe the spirits of their dead comrades, especially after the recent ma.s.sacre, were indeed haunting the jungles of Borneo.
This presented a problem, as her people were already suffering from biological warfare, to be the targets of an extensive psychological warfare operation on top of it, Itami could only clench her fists and anger, and deter further desertion via strict punishments for those who were caught in the act.
The j.a.panese Generals gazed upon their Empress who refused to halt the night operations, and instead chewed them out for being a bunch of superst.i.tious old fogeys.????we???νe?.co?
"You think Borneo is haunted? Fat chance! This is far more likely an extensive operation of psychological warfare that the Germans are playing at. I say the next time one of these so called 'ghosts' are spotted, we drop an artillery barrage on its position, and see if it still remains unharmed!"
Looks of utter disbelief appeared in the war room. As j.a.panese Generals and intelligence operatives gazed upon their Empress with total shock, many of them had indeed believed that the sightings of these wailing spirits were indeed reality.
Yet their Empress was sure that this was merely a trick the Germans were playing. n.o.body in this room aside from Itami herself knew exactly how such an illusion could be created, and thus they thought that she had lost her mind for daring to challenge the supernatural.
Still, not one of these men denied the orders of the j.a.panese Empress, and instead gave her a solid salute before dispatching the orders on how to deal with these hauntings. As for Itami, she was no longer feeling well enough to look after the war effort, and retired to her bedroom completely exhausted from the day's work. She could not help but voice her true thoughts aloud now that she was alone.
"Idiots, the lot of them! Believing that our dead are now ghosts haunting the battlefield and encouraging our soldiers to desert! Utter foolishness! How can they not see that this is clearly the work of the d.a.m.ned Germans!"
Itami then gazed over longingly at her Julian pillow and wrapped her arms around it before asking it a question as if it were the man who she longed for in the flesh.
"Oh Julian, how would you handle such utter foolishness among your own ranks? I can't very well disprove the idea that these are actual hauntings, but I know in my heart that this is the work of that b.a.s.t.a.r.d Berengar!"
After saying this, Itami gazed over at a portrait of Berengar which hung on her wall. This was not, however, the one that previously stood in its place. After all, she had damaged that piece of art in a fit of fury.
Instead, Itami had paid a small fortune to a Ming art collector to smuggle in a new painting of the Kaiser. Interestingly enough, Princess Helga von Kufstein had actually painted this portrait, and as such, it was of an even greater quality than the last one.
However, one thing Itami noticed was that in this new portrait, Berengar was even more handsome than before. After all, it had been painted by Helga after her father had come back from Iceland and undergone a physical rebirth.
Even Itami herself would get lost in thought, staring at this portrait from time to time. Thus, it came as no surprise when she finally bit her lip and admitted defeat to the man who she claimed to despise most of all in this wretched world.
"Well played Berengar, it seems you have outmaneuvered me once again, but I a.s.sure you just because I have lost this battle, that does not mean I have lost the war!"
After saying this, Itami stripped out of her clothes, placed a white lacey nightgown over her flawless body, and climbed into bed where she would get more sleep than she had over the past three days combined.
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