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Chapter 1

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Chapter I

On the March

 

Dmitri Jones, the thirty-one-year-old captain got out wondering why the convoy had stopped. However, once outside he could see the problem. It had been over two months since Dmitri had left the manor, to join the forces in the western front, and things were finally starting to be going well. That was at least until they reached ravine. A two-hundred-mile crack in the terrain that went from the centre of the country of Bartazer to its southern board, whilst the northern route was flat and ravine free, it was also complete in hospitable for any form of life, including the locals.

“Where do we go now?” Dmitri said looking down into the ravine and wasn’t pleased that he couldn’t even see the bottom of it. As the fifty-six-year-old commander Codsworth walked up to join him

“There’s a track that cuts across the ravine about two miles away from here, we’ll cross there.” Codsworth said looking to the south where a small mountain range could be seen in the distance.

As they get back onto the column of tanks that Codsworth had managed to get his hands on before setting off, they began to slowly begin making their way south towards the pass that their commander had identified.

Three quarters of their way across the pass and things had really taken a turn for the worse. The pass was so narrow that the tanks had to go single file. And to make matters worse, they were being constantly shelled from the far side. Where the people of Bartazer had set up their own encampment and were picking them off one by one. As the single column of imperial tanks makes its way up the narrow mountain pass towards the city of Haverminster and more importantly for Dmitri, the temple city of Rocksburg was somewhere around here. Then disaster struck. One of the defender’s shells manages to disable the leading imperial tank, stopping their whole advance.

Make for cover, Now!” Dmitri said getting out of the lead tank that was starting to catch fire, four others were able to get out, but the other six that had been with them were caught in the flames. As Codsworth rushes up towards the fallen lead tanks before crouching alongside the mountain wall.

“Ah, we're pinned down here!” Codsworth shouts as a piece of falling rock miss’s his head by a foot. “If they disable our rear units, we’ll be dead within minutes.” Codsworth said as he reaches Dmitri.

“Commander, time to unleash my new bots I think and also bring up the lighting.” Dmitri said, he was proud of that name, they were his best units who had volunteered as his lightning-fast mobile recon team. Codsworth nods and begins shouting into his radio.

“I want Capt. Jones bots and The Lighting Squad to the front of the column double time, Now!” Codsworth finishes. The backs of four of the middle tanks open up and release their load. A mixture of men and robots on armoured motorbikes come charging out and head towards the front of the column. As Dmitri, hoping that what he was planning would work takes out a long staff with a clear gem attached to the top of it.

“Codsworth, get the men out of the way, I'll clear the road.” Dmitri said as he lays the point of the gem, so it is almost touching the tank. Then moves it so that they are connected, at which the tank is pushed out of the way down into the ravine bellow. Disappearing into the blackness. Dmitri takes a silent moment to remember the men inside as the Imperial column breaks out of the bottleneck at the end of the pass and onto the more open terrain currently occupied by Bartazer.

“Break for cover! Move it! Let's go!” Codsworth shouts at his men as the first tanks break out of the bottle neck and The Lightning Squad along with Dmitri's Bots arrive at the head of the column wear one of the crew dismounts from his bike whilst saluting Dmitri.

“She's all yours captain.” The squad member said as Dmitri hops on the bike and turns to Codsworth, smiling that they had managed to beet this obstacle.

“We'll lead the way commander.” Dmitri said as he, his Bots and The Lighting Squad rush of towards the enemy held positions, whilst Codsworth signals to the rest of the column.

“FORWARD!” Codsworth yells and the rest of their group follow the captain, albeit at a much slower pace. Up ahead Dmitri can here The Bartazer General starts yelling at his men. But what he was saying was unknown. However, they were now being targeted by the enemy guns. A few of the enemy fire strike home destroying a couple of the armoured bikes however for the most part the crew is able to avoid the raining fire. As they close in a shell narrowly misses Dmitri's Bike. And even over the din. He can here the general shout the words. “Should we run!” However, it was all over Dmitri and his crew had now closed the gap to the extent where they are now firing back and destroying many of the enemy positions when the sergeant turns to the general. The soldier made one last ditch attempt to run but was shot in the back.

As Dmitri's crew are finishing up Codsworth arrives to help but quickly realised that the battle was already won. As Dmitri turns to him, looking tired but otherwise in good health.

“What were our losses commander?” Dmitri said as Codsworth took of his helmet and wiped the sweat of his brow.

“Seventy-three, I think, including the command crews of 4 tanks, plus the tank you pushed of the edge of that cliff.” Codsworth said, and Dmitri sighs deeply, it was worse than he had thought.

“That’s over a third of our forces.” Dmitri said looking back at the rest of their small army, it was battered and beaten, but still not broken by the looks of it.

“We do now have a clear route to the city.” Codsworth said, he could almost see the roofs of the city of Haverminster in the distance. Although this desert was known to play tricks on an attacker’s eye.

“Yes, but if we get attacked again, we will not enough men to take it.” Dmitri said looking into the distance. It was odd to be back here again, but the old feelings had returned off what was in store for the reckless. These peoples were masters of hiding in the deserts and were well versed at ambushing any attackers. “We'll make camp here tonight. Also, can you get on the line to imperial command.” Dmitri said, it wasn’t perfect, but it looked to be the best place for miles around.

“I'll give the orders.” Codsworth said as Dmitri lays himself down against a nearby rock and looked around at the landscape, there was a path up into the mountains, but he didn’t know where it led. He could hear the commander start giving out the orders to make camp. Thinking that he should help, he got up and walked over. But before he could take more than a few paces however, he spotted something out of the corner of his eye.

A large black creature was watching them from the north. It was hunched over but as Dmitri got out his binoculars for a closer look. The beast was gone. He slapped himself on the side of the head a few, remembering that it was impossible to be out in that area. He sighed and went to join Codsworth and the men in constructing their encampment.

 

Two days later and Codsworth found Dmitri lying against a rock sharpening a knife, not that you would have guessed it needed sharpening. The thing was now so sharp that the commander thought it would break on contact.

“The lines ready captain.” Codsworth said. it had been a nightmare to get communications online, since they were constantly being set upon by raiding parties. Which wouldn’t end until all of the raiders were dead. He had to admire them thought. As each and every one of them had fought to the death, rather than surrender. Dmitri gets up and walks towards an abandoned structure that their forces are using as a HQ, it had been a lucky find, after they had sent a bomb squad to check it out. Both Dmitri and Codsworth walk in and address the council meeting on the screen.

“Commander, Captain. How was the mission.” One of the council members said, in truth Dmitri had no idea who he was and didn’t care to know.

“Costly sir, over seventy dead. We've taken the pass, but don't have the forces to continue to our objective.” Codsworth replied. As General Tripp Steward a muscular bald man of fifty-six poke up.

“This is not good news.” Steward said looking around, at this point Mayor Osmund speaks up, it looked like The Mayor had put on another forty pounds since he had declared war, but that didn’t stop him heaving himself out of his chair, red faced and sweating to address the meeting.

“Surely we can send reinforcements.” The Mayor said. As James Newman, a rivermen serving as admiral of their fleet spoke up.

“There are no reinforcements, Osmund. Our forces are spread too thinly as it is. But we need that city and it's harbours.” Newman said. that was the truth, Dmitri though, they needed it so that they could resupply, as the only alternative at the moment was to send food and weapons along the pass behind them.

“Captain Jones, do you think you have enough men?” Steward said speaking to Dmitri for the first time. As he pauses to think, he realises that he doesn’t know.

“Maybe, if we don't get attacked again. But we're still twenty miles away from the city. Anything could happen on the march.” Dmitri said.

“Very well. Hold your position, we'll contact you again in twenty-four hours.” Steward said and the screen goes black and Dmitri and Codsworth walk out into the open.

“I don't like this, holding. We're sitting ducks out here.” Dmitri said looking around, they had lost another five men to the raiding parties and Dmitri was sure that more would fall, before the day was done.

“I know, but we can't take the city, not with the men we have.” Codsworth said, he wanted to leave as much as everyone else. But after what had happened at Boris’ fortress, the commander was a lot more cautious.

“Cause we can.” Dmitri said, batting away the concern with a flick of the hand. “That ain't the problem though, we need to get this force to the city without being detected.” Dmitri said, that was the key, although the rate it was going, he may as well be asking for time to stop advancing.

 

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