Britain stood in the harbour, feeling the sea breeze in his face and smelling the salty air. He'd always felt most at home by the sea; that was what came with being a small maritime island nation. Around him men ran left and right, shouting orders to each other and carrying crates of supplies. One of the ships sounded its horn loudly and its chimney began to issue puffs of black smoke. He was proud of his navy and always had been; it was the largest in the world, after all. If this was a naval battle he'd have won by the end of the year. But at the moment all these ships were doing was transporting his soldiers across the channel.
"Britain." One of the sailors ran up to him and saluted. "Everyone is on board. We're ready to leave."
"Excellent," he said, starting down the docks towards the closest ship. There was no way they were going without him. He was saving that French bastard's arse whether he liked it or not.
France sat in a deck chair under a nice shady tree, enjoying a glass of red wine. It was important, he had always believed, not to let hard times get in the way of enjoying small comforts such as these. Germany could take Alsace-Lorraine, he could even take Paris, but he could never take his killer sense of style. He took a strange kind of comfort in that.
The nice shady tree happened to be located right near the border where France's land met Germany's. That was not a coincidence, and neither was the fact that most of his army was with him. They were waiting for news of Germany's army sweeping through Belgium. Why were they not on Belgium's border, then? Because France had a score to settle. Germany thought he could just march in here and take Alsace-Lorraine? Well, he was going to show him what happened to countries who took land that didn't belong to them. Every German soldier in Belgium to the west meant one less soldier here on the defensive.
France held his glass up to the sun and admired the liquid inside. Red. A deep, bloody red. He had a feeling he'd be well used to that colour before long. After all, this wasn't a war. This was revenge.
Germany was not enjoying marching quite so much any more. He had that heavy, clawing feeling, the kind that you get when you know that something isn't right. His generals had assured him that he was doing the right thing, but he still didn't like what he'd done to Belgium. She hadn't struck first - she'd only tried to protect her land. Leaving an innocent girl immobilised in her garden and destroying her house didn't feel like very good karma.
He pushed those thoughts away. They were approaching France's house now and he had to have his head in the game. Whether this was a good idea or not, he didn't stand a chance of winning if he wasn't a hundred percent sure of himself. France was known for surrendering and running away, but the war he and Prussia had fought against him a few years ago - the one that had made Alsace-Lorraine part of their territory - had proved that he wasn't a complete pushover.
Austria and Hungary had better be grateful.
"Hey hey hey! What the hell are you guys doing here? You can't just go barging through here without the permission of the awesome me, you know."
Russia looked down at the indignant albino and smiled. Here he was, right at Germany's front gate with his million-strong army, and little Prussia thought he could reroute him? He felt like laughing, so he indulged himself in a little giggle. Prussia's glory days were long gone. He'd had a great country of his own once, but now he was just Germany's underling. It was a bit sad, really. "I think I can, da?"
"Nuh-uh! Germany left me in charge here and I say you can't. So there."
Russia surveyed him for a moment, his head cocked to one side. Then he turned to his generals and gave the order.
Canada sat on the deck of a military transport vessel cruising across the North Atlantic. The wind was whipping his hair back, ruffling Kumajiro's fur and making them both pretty cold, but he wasn't thinking about that. He was too busy trying to identify a feeling that had been rising in his chest ever since he'd declared war. It was... hot. Yes, definitely hot. Like some kind of fire or explosion. They were quite good comparisons actually; they were intense and determined, just like this strange feeling. It was brave as well, like he could storm the enemy with nothing more than a hockey stick and come out the victor.
He looked out at the rest of the convoy. Each boat held crowds of his own trained and equipped soldiers and each soldier was ready to fight to the death for him. And, he realised, he was ready to fight with them. With that realisation, he was finally able to put a name to that feeling.
"Kumajiro," he said, "I think I'm feeling badass."
The little bear looked up at him in confusion. "Who are you?"
He smiled. "I'm Canada."
South Africa leant on his rifle, waiting as his troops ran to catch up. Some of them were fanning themselves with their hats, but he was used to the heat. He had received his orders from Britain yesterday - he was to defeat German East Africa. That was the name that he had given the country that South Africa knew as Namibia. Ever since Germany had showed up on their shores a few years ago, he had been making friends and forming alliances with a lot of the countries there. Burundi and Rwanda were both devoted to him and even Cameroon let him govern affairs in his country. But South Africa was British, and they were German.
"Do you see Namibia?" asked one of his soldiers.
"Not yet," he said. "But we're getting close to his house. Come on."
And he was moving again, to Namibia's land. To war.
Australia liked parades. His whole country had been having them, all the young men that had raced to sign up dressed in their uniforms and marching down the street to the cheers of enthusiastic citizens. He'd even had to turn away potential recruits; there were just too many trying to join his army. He watched them reach the docks and file onto the boats, still waving to loved ones and grinning as they looked forward to their great adventure.
"You got everything?" asked New Zealand. "It's a long way to Turkey." He and Australia, deciding that they would be stronger together than on their own, had combined their armed forces to form the ANZACS - Australia and New Zealand Army Corps.
"Yep, it's all on there," said Australia, surveying the boats all lined up in his harbour. It was a long way to Turkey, but there, in a bay called Gallipoli, was where he and New Zealand were going to make a name for themselves. "You know, mate, I have a good feeling about this. I reckon Gallipoli's gonna be a fight to remember."
India stood at the helm of her troops, the harsh midday sun beating down on her. Her usual sari had been replaced with a military uniform and the dark hair that usually fell about her shoulders had been swept up into a neat, efficient bun. The soldiers lined up in front of her, standing to salute, were all well equipped, neatly turned out and ready for war. Ready to fight for her and alongside her.
When Britain had called his conference, India had attended only because she had to. They hadn't exactly been best friends over the past few years. She wasn't like Australia and New Zealand, desperate to prove themselves and make their Empire proud; all she wanted was a chance to get out and make her own way in the world. She saw the same desire reflected in the eyes of the army standing before her and couldn't help but feel a blaze of pride for them hotter than any Indian sun. They deserved their independence. That was what they were truly fighting for.
He turned; Hungary was crouched beside him, her green uniform muddy from the trench digging. They had withdrawn from Serbia's house a few hours ago and dug in around his garden; apparently it would be safer and more effective to attack from there. She had abandoned her frying pan when their army had arrived with supplies of more conventional weapons and now held her new rifle as elegantly as she would a broomstick or parasol, but there was no doubt in anyone's mind that she could and would use it as well as any soldier. Her eyes were full of their usual fire, but there was a question in them as well.
"Are you sure we did the right thing?"
He looked at her in silence for a moment, still leaning on his spade. Then he picked himself back up, threw the spade to one side and grabbed his rifle.
"Just load your gun, Hungary."
And there it is! The War to End All Wars, a Hetalia-style account of the events leading up to World War One. I actually really enjoyed writing this; I'm a bit sad to see it go... If you liked it, hated it or just have something to say, please leave a review! It makes me so happy to know that people read what I write.