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, August 24, 2009

The Last War: Chapter 51, Part 5

"Attack!" yelled out the Iron Man as violently as he could.

The force had assembled on the outskirts of the Mongolian city. Now they charged forward into it. The tanks were rolling at full speed and beginning to wear on the treads. The infantry was spread out to support the armor, but they too were sprinting forward as fast as they could.

And there went the leaper. A magnificent piece of machinery. Wreaking mass destruction and then running away in an instant. Almost Mongolian in attitude. The Iron Man saw it from his jeep, the only such small battle vehicle in the brigade.

"We've got a leaper now, Marchenko," Nemov said to his second-in-command, "We lost in Irkutsk because we didn't have one. We've got them now, though."

"They won't be ready for it sir," the man agreed.

A T-1K3 main battle tank rolled by on the left of where Nemov and Marchenko sat in the jeep.

"Hey, Iron Man!" a few troops called out in mock allure.

Nemov looked in the direction of the battle tank. One particularly coarse soldier was waving his buttocks at the colonel. The rest of the tank crew called out crude remarks.

"Your pistol please, major," said Nemov calmly.

Almost before Marchenko had finished handing his superior his sidearm, a shot rang out and the mooner fell into his tank with an agonized yell.

"We're in battle here, you sons of bitches!" Boris yelled, then settled back into his seat.

"That was amazing, sir. You hit him dead in the ass."

"No, Marchenko, I hit him in the face."

They both chuckled reservedly as the jeep bounced forward over difficult terrain. The tanks, mostly T-1K3's and Moscow III's, opened fire on buildings of S├╝hbaatar. As they began tumbling down and fires started, the Mongols finally seemed to realize they were under attack. A loose line of Mongols began to form before them.

The Iron Man leaned out of his jeep and yelled at an infantry platoon, "Don't spread out! Clump together! The Imps are spread out, so we've got to do the reverse!"

The Russians almost instinctively began to form into tight columns. It was a regular Russian battlefield tactic. Loose troops get swept up by closely packed attacking troops, but closely packed defenders get swept away by loose attackers because it's harder to hit them. Basic complementary behavior. Didn't always work, but it was usually best.

A mortar round blew a great big glob of mud up into Nemov's jeep.

"You see the kind of govno we officers have to put up with? Look at all this mud," said Boris, scooping a double fistful of the ooze out of his lap.

Marchenko saw a squad of tanks holding ground. He picked up his radio.

"This is Command to Red Squad. Do not hold ground, repeat, do not hold ground. We're going on the offensive here. Take armor against their infantry."

"Copy, Command," came the crackling hiss from the other end of the radio.

"That's some good work, Marchenko," said Nemov, "I don't want a single man or woman standing around here. We can't waste a single...Look at that! You there!"

The Iron Man pointed at a Russian sergeant who was holding an AS gun on about a dozen Mongol prisoners. He looked up when he heard the call of his commander.

"Yes, sir?"

"Don't troop those god damned Monks off the battlefield! Take their guns and throw them into the mud behind our lines! I need you on the front, sergeant. If they want to escape, they're damn stupid, and shouldn't have surrendered in the first place!"

"Yes, sir!" acknowledged the sergeant, then began systematically hurling each of his prisoners into the mud.

Nemov had been correct. The Mongolians had been caught completely by surprise. So many of them had been at the Nadam Festival that they weren't ready for even a battalion, let alone a brigade including large amounts of tanks and a leaper. They had mobilized surprisingly fast, however. Nemov assumed that they had put extra sentries on duty. Still, the Mongols were being plowed under the Russian war machine.

"Fog's lifting," said the Iron Man calmly, as he jolted along with the jeep.

"Yes, should certainly be better weather in the next few days," agreed Marchenko.

"Better occupying weather," replied Nemov, finally breaking into a smile.

The major turned away to avoid showing the huge schoolboy grin on his face. Russia's first victory of the war, and it was as huge a target as the waystation for all the Mongolian troops into the front.

By dawn it was all over. S├╝hbaatar was taken. It had been an utter rout.

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