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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."

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Last War: Chapter 76, Part 16

***Sorry about the oddly unannounced non-posting day yesterday. I've come through hell and high water this year to post every day, except for the occasional announced sabbatical. Then yesterday it just plain slipped my mind. Weird. Anyway, I have been considering switching over to a MWF posting schedule, which seems to be the industry standard. I haven't gotten any special kudos from anyone for posting every day, so I have no idea if it's too much content to take in or if people just don't care very much either way. Thoughts?***

The Animal slowly puffed on his last cigarette.

"Disgusting things, those," Jones said, passing by his commander on his way to somewhere else in the tank.

"Yes," said Arrington absently.

The Montgomery III continued to bounce along. Arrington's tank was surrounded by dozens and dozens of other Allied tanks, most of which were British and were spread out over a great area of land. As the Mongol mortars and artillery fell amongst the armored regiment it's loose formation made it less likely for any one tank to be hit.

Squinting, The Animal saw a few specks off in the distance moving towards the force at high speeds. The specks rumbled closer and closer.

"Oh, bloody hell."

The captain flicked his cigarette out of his hand and dove back into the tank, closing the cupola lid behind him. Not a moment later the entire Monty III was rocked by a huge shell.

"Jonesy, there is a huge pack of coalie tanks coming at us. Get ready for some real action."

"Sir," the gunner acknowledged.

Arrington picked up the small radio transmitter which was in every Allied tank, but was rarely used because radio signals were so easy to pick up. He used a very advanced encrypt code and then began speaking.

"This is Green Company leader to all tanks. Join together now. Close up all of those holes. I want clean ranks, like we’re on parade. Over."

"Confirm, Green leader?" asked an uncertain sounding voice.

"Repeat, parade formation. All tanks into ranks and files."

Looking through the periscope he could see the force was trepidaciously doing as he ordered. They had all slowed down to the speed of the slowest tank, so that the formation could move along uniformly.

Picking up the transmitter again, Arrington said, "First rank, point turrets dead ahead. Second rank: 20 degree angles. Third rank: 40 degree angles. Fourth rank: 60 degree angles. Lock all turrets in those positions. You are free to move horizontally, but not vertically. Repeat, do not change your angle of trajectory. Do not use any seekers, only conventional shells"

Eyeing his commander suspiciously, Jones lined his turret up dead forward, since they were in the front row.

"All stop! Fire at will!"

The entire Allied force ground to a halt and began spitting shells at the Mongols. Arrington observed that they had been caught completely by surprise. They were slowing down and milling around confusedly. Arrington chuckled softly as he could almost hear the Mongolian commanders yelling, "Keep formation! Keep formation!".

Slowly the confusion disappeared and the Mongols began to seriously return fire and continue moving forward. Each time an Allied tank was knocked out of commission the ranks completely reformed to fill in the gap.

"We’re about to lock horns with the coalies, captain," said Daltrey warily.

Arrington picked up the radio transmitter again, but continued to look through his periscope.

"Move backwards. Keep it by the numbers – don’t lose parade formation. You have permission to use any seekers you may have."

"Were you saving them so we could manage to fight our way out of this suicide, sir?" demanded Jones, firing off one of his own seekers.

"As a matter of fact, Jonesy, yes. That is exactly why we were saving them. On your left, Jonesy, on your left!"

The company of tanks hastily went in reverse back to where they had come from, but still facing the Mongols, who were charging forward.

"Sir, aren’t we just letting them gain ground?" asked Daltrey.

"Yes, and putting more and more distance between them and any reinforcements they may have."

The Animal turned his periscope around and around once more, surveying the battlefield. They had their backs to a small range of hills.

"And, Daltrey," he added, "Bringing us closer and closer to ours," he then picked up the transmitter and said, "Colonel, any time you please."

A leaper flew out from behind one of the hills and crashed down in the middle of the Mongolian force. Tanks slowly chugged over the hills. Thousands and thousands of Allied troops poured out of their hiding places from behind the hills and in amongst the Mongolian tanks.

"Thank you for baiting them for us, captain," came the voice of a French colonel

"Of course, colonel. Any time you wish," the Animal replied in mediocre French.

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