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Go Back   Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History > Military/History Related Hobbies > Alternate Timelines > Xtreme Alternate History

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  #1  
Old 17 Mar 16, 00:04
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The soldier through time

Let's assume reincarnation was real and that one man could remember every past life he lived, except that he always ended up being in the military. At what point does your soldier enter history? Would it be at the first battle in human history at Tel Megiddo in the 15 century BC? Or maybe Vedic India? Maybe at Marathon against the Persians? Who knows but imagine your soldier enters whatever military he's thrust into at the youngest possible age and works his way up through a lifetime of military service, only to die heroically in battle, sacrificing himself to save his brothers, his family and his homeland. Never does this soldier have to endure the constant boredom of being in a dull administrative position far from the front lines. Something about him draws him to combat and his superiors see his potential and promote him quickly. He's extremely smart but physically normal for a soldier. He can accomplish any task an army needs him to do but in his mind he's got that sense and knowledge that always gets the job done efficiently. Little do they know that there is something special about him but its something he feels hard to explain to anyone, because he knows no one would take him seriously and maybe even think negatively about him. So he keeps this secret, this emotional, mental, and spiritual immortality to himself and keeps on soldiering that always ends up being his fate.

However, his childhood memories are always new and every time he is born he relives a new childhood, bonds and memories. Its when he gets put into life and death situations is when his past memories about warfare flood in. The lessons learned from every training, conversation, lecture, book, battle, and death are retained and guide his decisions as if instinct. Its when he goes to sleep is when past memories replay like real life and relives. All the feelings associated with them too, both the pain and the joy. Never does the death of those closest to him or those he's responsible for ever diminish in pain, even after all the lifetimes he's lived. All he really hopes for is to stop the unnecessary suffering and if he has to live forever to end all war, he will keep doing all he can to do that. He realizes this after his second reincarnation, when trying to understand why he's alive again and why he's a soldier again. He believes that every life he's reborn is because he has not done all he could to help bring world peace. So his goal is to do that and he gets close a few times but every time another war starts he's reborn. Sometimes days, weeks, months, years, or decades go by before he's reborn again, sometimes he has to learn more about new tech and tactics that are available, while other times he has to go back to old tech and tactics to achieve victory. In his mind and body he knows whats the best possible outcome of a decision, even more so, after each other rebirth as each outcome of every decision he's made is accumulated.

So where does your soldier enter history?
Which places is your soldier born into?
What armies is your soldier recruited/forced into?
What people does he meet that develops his immortal military career?
What advantages could someone like him have on a battlefield, either in command or in the battle lines taking orders?
How best would you were a commander, utilize someone of such talent?
Where and when do they meet their fate at when they die their heroic deaths?
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  #2  
Old 19 Mar 16, 21:41
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If I was going to answer this, I'd do it from the POV used in this two volume series by Nicolas Monserrat...

http://www.amazon.com/The-master-mar.../dp/B001UDPXEO

Pick an ancient battle... any one will do, but one where our "hero's" side wins against great odds would be best. Our character however commits an ultimate act of cowardice in this battle and is still mortally wounded.
The God of War (whatever name is appropriate) shows up cursing him to eternally be a soldier until he redeems himself in battle by showing heroic ultimate sacrifice or some such. Only problem... Our "hero" is a through and through coward who time and again fails when presented a chance. Worse, he is also the ultimate bad luck charm. Any army he's in gets defeated, and defeated badly. Even when his side wins, they lose (he's with Pyrrhus for example).
He dies and is resurrected within days as someone else, his memories intact. He may be any nationality, with any military, but he always will end up in the thick of things. He tries not to enter the military but always ends up drafted. If not drafted, something else always draws him into military service.
He knows he's the doom of the unit he's in, potentially the doom of more than that but nobody believes him for a second. He rarely rises to more than a mere private even though it is obvious from day one in training he's an exemplary soldier and capable of so much more. Even if he tells others about his curse and immortality they never believe him and always die for some reason, usually in combat.

Cursed forever to fight and too scared to be a hero for a second and win, he wanders through time causing chaos and death to all those around him...
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  #3  
Old 21 Mar 16, 00:19
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Casca the eternal mercenary. Good series of reads from 33 AD up.
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Old 24 Mar 16, 13:00
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Sounds like Harry Flashman
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Old 24 Mar 16, 19:39
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World war one. The hero joins Kitcheners Army on the basis of hostilities only. Only to find out that as far as the gods are concerned this means all wars past present and future.
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Old 25 Mar 16, 06:23
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Read "Whatever Happened to Corporal Cuckoo? " a short story by Gerald Kersh 1953 about an immortal soldier. The eponymous Corporal was originally a Flemish soldier seemingly mortally wounded with an axe blow to the skull sometime around the end of the middle ages. A field doctor tries out his experimental honey vinegar based elixir on him by pouring it into his head (well he's dying anyway so what the hell) and Cuckoo mends and becomes immortal. No matter how badly he is wounded he heals - eventually. Unfortunately Cuckoo is not very bright and the only trade he knows is soldiering so he wanders Europe fighting in numerous armies and countless wars he never really understands the reason for. He never manages to rise above corporal and never makes let alone saves much money. He can just about keep up with the advances in weaponry. His one hope is to find out what was in that elixier and sell the potion - he never will.

Kersh was a British and later American writer of Jewish French extraction possibly best known for his novel Night and the City which has been filmed three times - the last version starring Robert De Niro (1992). He served in the Coldstream Guards in WW2 including acting as rearguard at Dunkirk and wrote of his experiences in They Die with their Boots Clean (1942)
Cuckoo reappears briefly in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen calling himsrlf Colonel Cuckoo so perhaps he does finally advance.
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Old 25 Mar 16, 11:00
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Nice, interesting concept, but it can't go on forever. With exponentially increasing knowledge, and therefore success and promotions, and with a self-given task to end all wars, pretty soon you'll see this guy do a Dwight and move on from a position as the most successful general in recent history to a political position. That's because that is where he can strive to stop the next wars from the control room, instead of winning them from the frontline.

This is not guaranteed to succeed the first time, but already the first time it will derail the history of the world as we know it. Then he'll come back again to try again. And again. This will also change the character concept, because over four or ten lives he won't just be the eternal soldier but also the eternal ruler.

Note that as he becomes more and more powerful he will probably amass remarkable fortunes, and as he becomes more and more astute he's likely to set aside at least part of his wealth in trust funds that will be available after his death to some guy - who will show up with the right password. In a few centuries, this will make him the wealthiest man on earth, on top of the rest. And he'll use this personal wealth first to gain power more quickly, and then to promote his agenda.

This might still work as a fascinating story line, but soon the history of this world will be unrecognizable.
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Old 25 Mar 16, 11:25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michele View Post
Nice, interesting concept, but it can't go on forever. With exponentially increasing knowledge, and therefore success and promotions, and with a self-given task to end all wars, pretty soon you'll see this guy do a Dwight and move on from a position as the most successful general in recent history to a political position. That's because that is where he can strive to stop the next wars from the control room, instead of winning them from the frontline.

This is not guaranteed to succeed the first time, but already the first time it will derail the history of the world as we know it. Then he'll come back again to try again. And again. This will also change the character concept, because over four or ten lives he won't just be the eternal soldier but also the eternal ruler.

Note that as he becomes more and more powerful he will probably amass remarkable fortunes, and as he becomes more and more astute he's likely to set aside at least part of his wealth in trust funds that will be available after his death to some guy - who will show up with the right password. In a few centuries, this will make him the wealthiest man on earth, on top of the rest. And he'll use this personal wealth first to gain power more quickly, and then to promote his agenda.

This might still work as a fascinating story line, but soon the history of this world will be unrecognizable.
The weakness in this argument is that it assumes that the human memory in infinitely expandable and people can go on learning indefinitely. Firstly marvellous although the human brain is it is physically finite and current studies indicate that there is a limit to just how much memory it can hold. So unless this character has some sort of supernatural cloud storage service he/she is going to start having to forget some things to make room for new memory. Secondly think of all those people whose single lifetime of experience consists of making the same mistakes over and over again - the ones who prove the Peter principle long before they get to retirement age even in one lifetime
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Old 25 Mar 16, 12:11
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The weakness in this argument is that it assumes that the human memory in infinitely expandable and people can go on learning indefinitely.
Sure, you are right - but I'm just going with the premise of the OP.
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Old 25 Mar 16, 12:54
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The weakness in this argument is that it assumes that the human memory in infinitely expandable and people can go on learning indefinitely. Firstly marvellous although the human brain is it is physically finite and current studies indicate that there is a limit to just how much memory it can hold. So unless this character has some sort of supernatural cloud storage service he/she is going to start having to forget some things to make room for new memory. Secondly think of all those people whose single lifetime of experience consists of making the same mistakes over and over again - the ones who prove the Peter principle long before they get to retirement age even in one lifetime
True, however each time he is reborn his childhood memories are restarted. This prevents both confusion and apathy. Imagine having different childhood memories coexisting as a child. You might not be satisfied with your current childhood and try to relive your past childhoods. You could regret being born at all and become indifferent to trying to live a normal life. You might even go as far as killing yourself. From a clean slate the soldier builds new bonds and memories, it is only when reentering the military that vivid dreams begin to appear. They are most real when reliving past mistakes. Other menial and mundane parts of past military experience aren't very memorable and so do not appear. The memories of brotherhood are in those moments when you feel like the soldiers beside you are closer than anyone you've every known, but the past memories are only a feeling which becomes stronger with each rebirth. These memories of brotherhoods are very detailed and each time new bonds are formed you feel as if this was is the main reason you joined and that this definitely isn't the first time you have felt this way. Each death of a close comrade hurts just as much as the first. You don't remember the details of every comrade that has died in every life past but your mind and body remember it and it feels just as bad, if not worst. Those peaks of adrenaline in each battle are remembered but not as true memories but more as muscle memory. The experience of those events accumulate within you and you each time a traumatic event occurs its as if you have already experienced it before and your senses are enhanced and your instincts honed. The accumulation of previous training and experience allow your muscles to respond automatically without the need to tell them. When you sleep is when those detailed past lives memories replay. They are triggered by events during your present life. Its as if your mind can sense a repeat of a past event and prepares yourself by replaying that similar event(s) to what could happen in the future. So specific event(s) will replay in your dreams as if it was real with all of your senses being stimulated. Upon waking, the details of the dream remain until the end of the present event has passed. Call it a temporary memory stored for only as long as it was needed.
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Old 25 Mar 16, 15:12
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True, however each time he is reborn his childhood memories are restarted. This prevents both confusion and apathy. Imagine having different childhood memories coexisting as a child. You might not be satisfied with your current childhood and try to relive your past childhoods. You could regret being born at all and become indifferent to trying to live a normal life. You might even go as far as killing yourself. From a clean slate the soldier builds new bonds and memories, it is only when reentering the military that vivid dreams begin to appear. They are most real when reliving past mistakes. Other menial and mundane parts of past military experience aren't very memorable and so do not appear. The memories of brotherhood are in those moments when you feel like the soldiers beside you are closer than anyone you've every known, but the past memories are only a feeling which becomes stronger with each rebirth. These memories of brotherhoods are very detailed and each time new bonds are formed you feel as if this was is the main reason you joined and that this definitely isn't the first time you have felt this way. Each death of a close comrade hurts just as much as the first. You don't remember the details of every comrade that has died in every life past but your mind and body remember it and it feels just as bad, if not worst. Those peaks of adrenaline in each battle are remembered but not as true memories but more as muscle memory. The experience of those events accumulate within you and you each time a traumatic event occurs its as if you have already experienced it before and your senses are enhanced and your instincts honed. The accumulation of previous training and experience allow your muscles to respond automatically without the need to tell them. When you sleep is when those detailed past lives memories replay. They are triggered by events during your present life. Its as if your mind can sense a repeat of a past event and prepares yourself by replaying that similar event(s) to what could happen in the future. So specific event(s) will replay in your dreams as if it was real with all of your senses being stimulated. Upon waking, the details of the dream remain until the end of the present event has passed. Call it a temporary memory stored for only as long as it was needed.
Who or what decides what are childhood memories and deletes them? When does childhood end? Some childhood memories are relevant anyway. Far too much deus ex machina to be credible
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Old 25 Mar 16, 23:06
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Who or what decides what are childhood memories and deletes them? When does childhood end? Some childhood memories are relevant anyway. Far too much deus ex machina to be credible
I'm just coming at from the perspective that repeated childhoods would be confusing for a child once they come to understand that this wasn't their first. If he communicated this to anyone, he would be thought to be crazy and other kids might ridicule him. As a parent how do you handle a child who genuinely believes this? As soon as the child says, "Mommy, I believe I am a soldier who fought and died in past wars." How do you respond to a child who says you are not my first parents and proceed to give them details on his previous parents and childhood? Revealing this information would change their relationship with him. They might even think he has a psychological disorder and possibly be labelled insane. Restarting his childhood would prevent this and serve to allow him to relate to his brothers in arms who have only had one family. I would hope the eternal soldier doesn't let any of his brothers know he has had many families over many lifetimes. Probably create a few laughs if he didn't insist, but if he did, he wouldn't be regarded the same.
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Old 26 Mar 16, 04:25
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There has been an interesting couple of programmes on Brit TV recently about supposed memories of prevoius childhoods, some of the stuff appears rather difficult to just rationally reject as psychiatric disorder/delusion.

My personal choice for an 'eternal soldier' who might be relevent to today would be one of my own ancestral great grandfathers, Charles 'The Hammer' Martel, who engineered a remarkable victory at the Battle of Tours/Poitiers - or as the Muslims would call it, the Battle of the Martyrs. His military prowess was copied for hundreds of years, even into the era of cannon and muskets.
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Old 26 Mar 16, 06:40
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I'm just coming at from the perspective that repeated childhoods would be confusing for a child once they come to understand that this wasn't their first. If he communicated this to anyone, he would be thought to be crazy and other kids might ridicule him. As a parent how do you handle a child who genuinely believes this? As soon as the child says, "Mommy, I believe I am a soldier who fought and died in past wars." How do you respond to a child who says you are not my first parents and proceed to give them details on his previous parents and childhood? Revealing this information would change their relationship with him. They might even think he has a psychological disorder and possibly be labelled insane. Restarting his childhood would prevent this and serve to allow him to relate to his brothers in arms who have only had one family. I would hope the eternal soldier doesn't let any of his brothers know he has had many families over many lifetimes. Probably create a few laughs if he didn't insist, but if he did, he wouldn't be regarded the same.
Doesn't work if you think about it. He would thus have to be born with no memory of previous lives but at some point in his life suddenly remember all of them (and not think that he had gone bonkers). Memory doesn't work like that.
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