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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."

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Last War: Chapter 42

Most Venerable Parents,

I am most pleased to be able to say that I shall soon be returning to you. My tenure in the Golden Army is up. How long has it been since we first invaded Russia and I first volunteered? Three years? Four?

I can't really recall. It has seemed a lifetime to me. But now it shall soon be up. I'm to be given a permanent pension, an officer's pension. It's not enough to live on, but it's enough to make a poor man satiated and a satiated man almost rich. I've been trying to figure out what I should do when I return. Employers look kindly on veterans, but what skills do I have? I can dismantle, clean, and reassemble an AS gun in thirty seconds. Perhaps I can get a job at an arms factory. Or would you rather have me help with the sheep, father?

Well, that is still far in the future. I am in Sühbaatar now. You may recall this is the city from which I first was sent to the front. It is the jumping point for all infantry troops, into and out of the front. Speaking of which, have I written to you of Angarsk?

I was correct in assuming we would battle more Russians at Angarsk. It was apparently a city of some importance to their war effort. I found the bodies of at least two of their generals in the rubble after the battle.

It was, once again, an easy battle. I grow fearful that our battles may soon become difficult. For every army, as for every man, there are equal parts bad luck and good luck. We've been winning for so long I wonder if it will not be soon before we start losing for an equal period of time.

Well, it does not concern me personally, only Mongolia as a whole. My days of war are over. I hope to be able to tell my children and my children's children my war stories. I'll have to find a lovely woman to marry when I come home. I don't want to die without children to carry on the Kazakh name.

I wasn't really on the front line at Angarsk, you understand. I was more of an observer. You see, on the march from the site of Lake Baikal, I was shot by a Russian sniper. I don't know why he chose me over the more important officers, but he did. Don't be alarmed, he only hit my leg. It's already healed. But at Angarsk it wasn't.

I was ordered to stay behind the line with the artillery. The only way I would have had to have actually faced battle would have been if the Russkis had broken all the way through our lines back to the big guns. Of course, they did not.

I did have to listen to our mortars banging away at them from up close. It's a wonder any of our artillery men can still hear. They have to face those kinds of awful noises every day. Luckily, they all stopped abruptly when our men began to charge. You don't want to be firing artillery and accidentally hitting your own men.

I saw the way the two forces of glorious, shimmering, gold clad forceful Mongolians and muddy, brown, fur clad ragtag Popovs met. It was like two seas meeting and throwing waves against waves until finally one dominates. Our Shepherd IIs and Khan IVs smashed away Russian resistance.

I could tell the Popovs really didn't have their hearts in it. They all seemed more intent on getting away from Angarsk than actually fighting us. I think the toll of too many defeats is beginning to hurt them. It remains to be seen whether that will prove to galvanize them or to ruin them.

Well, I was hardly a hero at Angarsk, but I served my quota of battles. My time was finally up. So they sent me here to Sühbaatar. I've mostly been relaxing, letting my leg heal, and biding my time until I'm finally sent back to you. It shouldn't be long. Until then.

Your Son,

Lieutenant Darbet Kazakh, 76th Heavy Infantry

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