“Guardian!” said Nogilian. “Such a thing has not been done!” Ash was too astounded to speak.
I nodded. “It’s happening now. How long to reach the Profuse Stair?”
He shook his head, frowning. “Three days, by the fastest greatship. But if you mean by valkyrie...”
“How long, Nogilian?”
He grabbed his chin, considering. “A day and a night, no more.” He could not hide his smile. He had been pleased to learn the simple Earth technique of towing artillery with valkyries. That discovery alone would have changed the entire nature of warfare on Thaeron. It had never occurred to them to try.
“Excellent. We break camp by dusk. Full gear. Don’t tell them why. But I want an overnight rest there before we assail the Stair.” I intended to make full tactical use of the fact that the cliffs faced east.
Ash had finally gained the wherewithal to talk. “But how, Guardian? How is this even possible?”
“Wonders of the world, lieutenant. The wonders of your world. Have you ever wondered why the White Swarm would be found here on Thaeron, of all places? Why not on Earth?”
He had no answer.
“You both have your orders. Ki should know. We’ll meet in my tent.” I climbed the hill and went inside, abhorred the smell. But a strategy was needed. Time was running out. Soon enough I had my maps unfurled. It wasn’t long until Nogilian and Ash and Ki trooped in. They bore the ease of lieutenants doing things together comfortably on their own. I winced, so far had my command fallen. But I did not dwell.
Tactically, the situation was dire but possible. The Shuni wielded unusual weaponry we were not trained to fight. Together with the fact that we had very few spearmen, this meant that the most conventional assault would fail. Valkyries couldn’t scale the artificial cliffs, and the heights would be otherwise unreachable. I suggested a plan contingent on our few advantages. Nogilian approved. So did Ki and Ash.