"Berlin," Olensheim said.
He had thought he'd never see the city again when he left it. Now here he was at the gates. He knew the charge through Germany had been far too easy. The Easterners had been retreating purposefully so that they would not be ruined. After the victory Olensheim had taken over one of Igoumensita's second stringers, a Pantermalis, the Eastern Army had fled from the German re-invaders.
"General Olensheim, how can we siege a city without using artillery?" the English commander asked him.
Olensheim wished he had an answer. It was a difficult question.
"I wish I knew," he said, "The Easterners had just retreated up to this point. I assumed they would continue. I had hoped we wouldn't have to kill innocent Germans by using siege equipment, but they're not budging from Berlin."
"If you want my opinion," which Olensheim didn't, but since he felt he owed the Briton for aiding him he listened anyway, "It's a ruse to let the whole army escape to safe territory. They're holding Berlin to distract our attention."
"I know," he said, "It's true. I want to tell you what the Easterners are doing, but you must understand this is classified information and is not to leave your mind."
"The Easterners have begun mass executions of our civilians. As long as they hold Berlin it will continue. If we don't take Berlin back there won't be a living person in the city within two weeks. They're forcing our hand. Of course it's a ploy to distract us, but we can hardly ignore it."
The Englishman sighed.
"We have to take the city then. We must shell it. You can't just send troops in without softening an objective up a bit."
"There would be so many civilian deaths. It would be a war crime - an atrocity. It's our own people we're killing if we shell it."
"Take some of their lives now to save most of their lives by driving the Easterners out."
"I know. It's an impossible problem. We have to send in troops without artillery."
"If that's your order I'll follow it, general, but you have to know it will cost the lives of countless numbers of our soldiers."
"It's my order."
The Briton saluted and left.
"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."
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