THE EMPIRE’S TWILIGHT
By Anthony Wilkins
Buenos Aires, 0035hrs
18th March 1982
The door to the lavishly decorated hotel room burst open with a loud thump against its wooden frame as though a hammer had been used against it. The two naval ratings standing guard outside the room stood smartly to one side not even contemplating interrupting the visitor. Admiral Juan Lombardo stormed up to the bed of his adjutant, Captain Carlos Juarez, who sat up startled in bed. Trembling beside him beneath the fine silk sheets was the naked body of a woman barely half of Juarez’s age.
“What is it?” asked Juarez. “Sir?”
“Get out!” said Lombardo to the prostitute.
The frightened young girl did as she was told. She reached for a set of bathrobes to cover her naked form before gathering up her clothes from the floor and heading for the door not knowing where she was going to be able to get dressed. Once she had gone through the door Lombardo barked instructions to the two guards to close the door behind her.
“What’s happened?” repeated Juarez who was now trembling from the adrenalin of having been awoken with such suddenness and noise.
It was at that point that Lombardo noticed the open bottle of brandy Juarez had shared with the prostitute earlier that evening. He walked with haste over towards it while Juarez reached for some of his clothes that lay strewn across the floor. Lombardo poured a shot into the tumbler before throwing it in his own face. He rubbed the liquid from his tanned skin with a napkin before pausing to see if he would wake up from this crazy nightmare he had found himself in. It didn’t work. This was real.
“We are to restore Argentina’s pride,” said Lombardo with a dread-filled voice.
“What do you mean?” asked Juarez who was now onto his feet wearing only the trousers of his dress uniform.
“The Malvinas,” explained Lombardo. “We are to retake the Malvinas from the gringos.”
“What?” asked a disbelieving Juarez.
Lombardo walked over to the large bay windows of the hotel room and pulled aside the curtain to look out at the capital of Argentina. “I have been tasked by Galtieri to formulate a plan to capture the islands. I am to utilize all the latest weaponry and training we have received by our US benefactors. I have been told that once we take this action we will be cut off from the Americans who fear a widening of the war that is now coming.”
“But Admiral!” said Juarez walking up to the side of Lombardo. “The weapons, the aircraft; the retraining is not completed yet.”
“I have emphasized this fact with the General,” said Lombardo. “His orders stand. The Operation is to be called Rosario.”
“How soon until we invade?”
“He wants the islands in our hands by April 1st,” replied Lombardo.
“What? He can’t be serious, Admiral. We are not ready. Neither is the Air Force or even the Army for that matter. If we invade the islands then we will reap the wrath of the Commonwealth with only a half trained force of mostly conscripts.”
“The General feels that if we retake the Malvinas now then it will bring stability to our country and restore our pride. The people need something to believe in and if history has taught us anything it’s that war is an excellent way of uniting people who would otherwise be at each other’s throats.”
“He’ll get his war,” said Juarez threateningly. “At least if we had a few more months to re-equip and retrain we’d stand a fighting chance.”
“I’m afraid that is not a concern of the General. He believes victory can be achieved through both military and political action. After all we are the only ones with a legitimate claim to the islands so why shouldn’t the world accept our ownership. At least that’s the General’s thinking. But ready or not, in a little over two weeks we will raise the flag of our homeland over territory that is rightfully ours. And then within a month we will see ourselves in our first major war since 1880.”