Monday, November 25, 2013

Page a Day: One Hundred Twenty

            But at Wesing, the Augers didn’t charge. They slipped away. After the snipers in first row of Wesing’s buildings, we did not encounter half the resistance Marcus and Jerem Cozak expected. My mastodon was not hit again. I heard the crush as other sections of the wall gave way and caught glimpses of the other columns taking the streets the same way we were. We crossed the square and the armories where so many of the battles for the Free Cities had been decided. It stood empty. The further west we went the more we saw the rest of our army and the less we saw resistance. “Units of Augers retreating,” came the reports from the scouts. “In the nightwind they move like ghosts.”
            As the relics came down visibility got better again, maybe fifty paces in the fog where it sat heavily around the port. When we saw the west wall, commands went up and down the line to move the artillery into position because of course the retreating Augers had sealed the gates behind them. Jerem Cozak swore because always before the city had been taken by the time we reached the square. We had never had to fight our way out of one. Now we had to do so for a wall not half as high as all the rest of them. We started awkward shuffling in narrow urban confines. Then we did what soldiers do. We waited.
            The Augers that had charged out from the first of the Free Cities were not many, perhaps a thousand. They were not well equipped. Not all of them carried quickswords. And they were not well organized, for they did not march or run together, but only came in a sort of uneven trot. Still they came regardless, and they made straight for the artillery. At three hundred paces, Julius had us hold our fire. At two hundred, he had every other squad shoot into the ranks. I was not among them. At one hundred, everybody shot. The barrage on the walls continued all the while.
             We cut them down. They fell like grass. As targets they were larger and slower than anything I’d fired at before. They fell every third, and then every other. I could not tell whether I hit anyone or not. We did not call our marks. When they were fifty paces out and I was astounded that this could be so easy, another herd of mastodons charged from the side and swept them all away. Augers were thrown in the air. Men screamed. Some were gored all the way through. When the dust from that charge cleared, there were none of the enemy left standing.

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