Manuscripts Burn


MANUSCRIPTS BURN

"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov

Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Last War: Chapter 12

Admiral Yuan Timur had been called to meet with Emperor Bleda Khan. Timur was one of the more powerful commanders of the Golden Navy, and so, he imagined, he would be given an important and glorious assignment. Some day his name would go down in history books for whatever Bleda Khan would soon be telling him to do.

He was an arrogant man, more full of boastful arrogance than actual military competence. Still, he had his redeeming virtues, because had he not he never would have reached his current place of power. He had the look of pomposity, as though he was constantly smiling at the expense of others.

It had been several months since Bleda Khan had declared war on Russia. It was problematic that Mongolia was, for the moment, landlocked. Without direct access to the sea ships were basically on their own. Standing orders were not to sink any Russian ships, but to board them for food, supplies and oil, then tow them back to Mongolia by the rivers to be refitted as Mongolian ships. So far, the Navy had been having mild success. The Golden Army had been having far more victories.

Bleda Khan was standing hunched over a table of maps of Asia and it's individual countries. He was drawing feverishly, and tapping the marker on the table. He didn't seem to notice Timur.

"Emperor, sir!" barked out Bleda to get the Khan's attention.

Bleda looked up. Surprise, and then dim recognition crossed his face.

"Admiral Timur. Come over here."

Timur obeyed. Bleda was pointing at a map that showed Mongolia, Russia, and China. Mongolia was red, Russia blue, and the parts where Mongolia was occupying Russia were purple. China was a neutral yellow.

"You see how much Russian territory we're taking already? The Russian Campaign is going fantastically well. I think we have enough men to open up several other fronts now. We don't need to keep as many men in the Northern Front as we are. Russia is not a significant opponent. I think we should begin diverting men across the Great Wall to China."

Timur looked at the map. He wasn't much of a ground tactician. It looked like a sound enough strategy. Mongolian troops could enter China from the north in occupied Russia and from the east in Mongolia. A few bombs could wipe out the wall and allow infantry in.

"It looks like a solid plan, sir. Except..."

"What?" demanded the emperor.

"The Chigols."

The derogatory term seemed to jab Bleda Khan right in the heart. Bleda struck Yuan Timur across the face.

"Don't you call them that! They are not any less of a people than we are! Personally, I think that the Chinese migrants would be proud, if not happy to retake their homeland."

"But would they be willing to fight their own friends and family? I think it may be too much of a risk, sir. The Chig...the migrants make up too large a part of our army to chance their willingness to fire upon their own people."

Bleda nodded.

"I'll proceed with the invasion of China, but I will take your thoughts into mind, admiral. Actually, that is not why I called you here."

Thank God. Here it came.

"India," said Bleda Khan.

Timur felt his whole life satiated by that single word.

"India," repeated Timur reverently.

"Yes," said Bleda Khan, "The subcontinent must be taken by sea. I need you to lead the fleet there, admiral. I have specific orders and maps drawn up here."

The emperor handed Timur a packet of maps and manuscripts. He looked at the path his ships would have to follow. The ships would attack India from the sea, then let out the marines. The army would follow after them, in larger transport ships. Timur would be in charge of the whole naval movement. He'd have to form a blockade to intercept Indian refugees. It all looked very good.

"Well?"

Bleda Khan was looking at him expectantly.

"You have a lot of brilliant stratagem here, emperor," he said sincerely.

"Good," said Bleda, "Go then. You know as well as anyone that we don't have many ships, but we've attacked numerous Russian shipyards and I'll be sending the refitted Russian ships to rendezvous with you in the Indian ocean. Dismissed."

"Long live the emperor!" called out Timur hollowly.

Bleda Khan smiled.

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