- Posts : 12
Join date : 2018-07-26
Tue Feb 09, 2021 4:10 pm
Parts I and II, The August Experience and The Beginnings of War
“… our neighbors have encountered that most horrible of fates. The Great Bazaar of Iammelon is in unprecedented waters for a nation of its size. A threat of war and instability has landed on them like divine punishment. As a great power of the Eastern Hoshizora Galaxy they must not be left to the fate of a civil war. We must help our sister nation. This is why I call upon you, loyal citizens of the Empire of Bezannia. Stand with me to aid Iammelon in its time of need.” The radio crackled as the broadcast was switched back to IBC Station 131.2. Looking up from the checkered carpet I had my eyes trained on, I stood up and moved to the radio switching it off. I had heard enough of the empress’ call to action for one day.
I grabbed my wool coat from the rack near the door, slinging it over my shoulders without bothering to fasten the buttons. Pushing the door open I locked it behind me and walked down the stairs of the building. Passing through the glass door at the bottom of the stairwell I came out onto the sidewalk of Woolworth Avenue, the street was mostly empty say for the occasional trolley or car hissing as they passed. Sliding my hand into my vest under the coat, I removed a dinged and rusted cigarette case. Opening it the hinges making a dreadful squeak and I grabbed a cigarette. Snapping it closed and returning it to the interior pocket of my vest. Retrieving a lighter from my right trouser pocket I raised the case and lit my cigarette. The subtly hint of sweet lavender infused tobacco hit my lungs with the first breath. I passed two gentlemen on the sidewalk, one held a newspaper and the other seemed to be discussing the contents of the newspaper.
“… perhaps peace can be struck with the confederate states?” The one with the newspaper said.
“Not likely, Monrio and Tyfrondor are at each other’s throats! Neither will...” The other said as I passed by. I paid them no mind and they didn’t stop their conversation to pay any attention to me. I arrived at the recruitment office where the line went out the door. It was packed full Creach, Measctha, but mostly humans. I knew the knifeears and stripes would be frequenting the other recruitment offices. The Creach were mostly males, lowlanders, I figured. There was no air of inferiority to them. No woman lording over them from behind their shoulder. They were for sure lowlanders. Most of them wore shabby suits, plaid vests, flat caps over their small round ears. The Measctha wore green or brown clothes just as rough. I got in line with the others and waited.
I didn’t have to wait long to get inside the cramped office. It was full of mostly young men, and a few women. The officer at the desk was busy stamping and filing applications. Another officer was on the telephone, and a third one was handing out pens and applications to the men in line.
I took my application when the officer handed me the sheet of paper. Like most of the people here, I filled it out while standing up and slid it into a basket.
“Once you have filled out your forms, please proceed to the loading area. You will be allowed to take what is in your pockets, but all bags, briefcases, coats, hats, and large personal effects must be handed in before boarding the trucks.” The measctha who had handed me my paper shouted. The man in front of me removed his cap and jacket, pulling his pocket watch from his jacket and putting it in his vest before proceeding. I removed my own coat and tossed it into a metal bin. We all filed into a large cargo truck, hoisting ourselves up before a uniformed soldier closed the bed behind us. I shared this truck with sixteen other men. Two of those Creach Lowlanders and one Measctha. The man next to me, a human wearing a blue shirt and grey pants leaned over to me.
“Got a smoke? Forgot to fill my case before we left.” He said a bit hushed.
I nodded and removed a cigarette from my case for him. “I hope Bezem Lights are okay.”
He took the cigarette between his index finger and thumb, placing it in his lips before striking his own lighter. “Yea, fine with me. So, got a name?”
I nodded, “name’s Charles.”
He nodded and put his hand out. I shook it. “I’m Henry. Pleased to meet you.” I smiled a bit weakly at him as the sweet lavender infused tobacco filled the truck. “So, Charles. What hole did you crawl from?”
I turned my head down. “Sythemore. You?”
“Lashershire, m’self. Seems we’re both Bezembay Bods.”
“Both stupid enough to sign for the army too.”
A creach at the other end of the truck laughed. “Aye, but dont feel too bad. We’ve all shot ourselves down this path.” The truck filled with a little laughter.
The truck came to a stop, and the back door swung open. A Fatimazda stood at the end of the truck. He wore a brilliant red uniform with black trousers. He had a gold and black sash over his shoulder and a matching belt. The Fatimazda was maybe fifteen or sixteen feet tall. His tall hovered above the ground with great elegance. His draconic snout was short and stubby, his neck long and thin. He had a long thin pipe secured between sharp triangular teeth. The fur on his face was cut short, the long and smooth fur on his body silky and elegant. It was almost white with a hint of purple with long wavy horns. A minor nobleman, I thought. He had a deep black sclera with yellow irises. His mouth was stern.
“Gentlemen, you will dismount.” He barked. And we slowly jumped off the truck. We were in a train station. “You will report to Quarter Master Haynes for uniforms and equipment. Proceed to my left please.” He barked loudly and stepped back. I headed for this Haynes to get my uniform. It was a human wearing a black garrison cap with a gold emblem.
It took a little bit of time, but we all go our uniforms. Black trousers with no stripes or piping, black boots with gaiters, an undershirt with a pair of suspenders, a red jacket with gold buttons and white cuffs and collar, a backpack, a canteen, a set of white webbing, a tall black helmet, a bayonet, and a Thurgood-Vance Rifle. The other men were dressed in the same uniforms, and we were all lined up to be counted off and our names called. The same Fatimazda called our names and assigned us a numbered unit we were to find.
I stepped forward, “Sir.”
“Ninety Second Brigade. Report to Platform Five.” I stepped forward and saluted with an open palmed hand to my helmet. I then walked off to platform five. When I approached the platform, I found a collection of soldiers. All of them were sitting around on boxes of weapons or ammunition. Some were sharing bottles of wine, others eating bread and cheese. They all seemed so happy. Some were excited even. I spied two women, a measctha and a human stood next to each other. The Measctha had a tall glass only filled to the lower parts with whiskey or some other dark liquor. The human across from her had a mug full of beer. The measctha had such genuine excitement in her tone and voice. Her face was wrinkled with smiles. The human across from her was less interested in the conversation and more on her beer. As I walked and spied of these two, I bumped into a rather burly Creach man. His face was striped with two white spots that curled from his cheeks down his neck. The rest of his fur black. He turned towards me and removed his cap.
“Got any eyes, Human?” He spoke without an accent. Even though he wore the same red coat and white webbing as I did, and it covered much of his form I could tell he was a well-built man. His wide shoulders told me that underneath his uniform he was packed with muscle. Though, I tried not to dwell on the thought.
“I’m sorry, chap. Lost in thought. Can I grab you a drink? I think I spotted a lad with a bottle of unattended brandy.” The creach man’s ears shrunk a little, and he turned away.
“Piss off.” He said turning back to his squad mates. I was relieved that I had avoided a brawl which I would have lost and avoided providing a fetch service. I found myself a bench and sat on it. Removing my helmet and setting it next to me, I looked out at the station. It wouldn’t be long until I heard a spur of excitement, as the soldiers began to stand up. I looked over to spot a Fatimazda, this one being just as tall as the last but with yellow fur this time approaching me. He was waving with one hand, his other firmly grasped around his sword. He wore the red jacket with the gold buttons, a gold and black sash and belt, and the black trousers with the red stripes as the first one I had seen. The only difference being his wavy horn styling, lack of tattoos, and monocle on the right eye. His left eye had a large scar across it. Soon the entire legion was crowding around him. I didn’t want to feel left out of course, so I joined the crowd.
“Thank you, thank you gentlemen. I’m really not in the mood for a spirit right now though. Come, come! Gather round, men,” he shouted, “Right. Some introductions are in order. I am Brevetted Leftenant-General Roberts-Kai, Or, as you will refer to me Leftenant-General Roberts. I am your commanding officer. I am excited to work with a new batch of men. You are all most fortunate to have received this station. The 92nd is the Violence Brigade and you’ll soon see why. High Command has not issued our deployment yet, but I expect they will on the train to the docks. Allow me to introduce my second and third in command. Colonel Domhnall of Her Imperial Majesty’s 6th Creachdair Highlander Berserkers. And Major Turin of Her Imperial Majesty’s 12th Lion’s Watch Carabiniers.” As he introduced these two, I couldn’t make them out. My view was obscured by the crowed of individuals much taller than myself.
“Gentlemen, prepare yourselves. This may not be a quick and cheap victory. We could see the golden capital of the Zantine. We could be trapped on the deserts of Trikorn, maybe you’ll get to send your best wishes to the chief bastard Monrio himself! Regardless of where we are sent to, prepare. With that, I’ll leave your orders to Mister Turin. Thank you, Gentlemen.” He smiled and waved his hand, we all cheered, though I cannot recall if I did too. There was a flurry of excitement and yelling. The Fatimazda stepped into the closest train car. A short human in a white helmet stepped onto a box. But I spotted a Creach woman behind Roberts climbing into the same car.
“Alright, lads. Save that for the end of the war. You will ensure you have all equipment and small personal belongings at the ready. You will mount up and board this train. Be quick, we depart in five minutes. You will be briefed and assigned squads on the way to the ship. Stay with your squad once we arrive. Follow your sergeants to your assigned bunking. Now, let’s all be quick, lads. We’ve a train to catch and a war to fight! Moon save the Empress.” We echoed his patriotic cry, I did too. I didn’t feel particularly disloyal, nor did I want to embarrass myself in front of the others.
I boarded the train, second to the caboose. Inside the carriage there were racks for rifles and bench seating in the center with a long table all the way down. There was standing room on the edges of the car and cubbies for our backpacks by the overhead gun racks. The only windows we had were metal blinds that were angled upwards. I moved to the blind and peaked out it. Watching the platform I had been on. It was picked clean of everything. No bottles, no crates, no barrels, nothing. There were a few rail station workers walking back and forth. My peaceful watching of the workers was interrupted by two screeching whistle blows. The train lurched forward and we were off.
I mainly kept to myself for the hour or so we would be chugging along to the ports. I didn’t want to start a fight like with the lowlander, and I wasn’t in the mood for making merry now. Most of the other men’s excitement was dying down. I couldn’t spot the grins anymore, just smirks. I suppose this is best as time as any to confess my origins. I’m an author. Born in Sythmore, I mainly disgraced my parents by flunking from George Bardolph College to pursue a mildly interesting career in writing. I never found much success of course. I wrote a few pieces for the local Sythmore paper, the something Herald. I wouldn’t know as the thing was so forgettable. This war I think is a ticket to a better me. Better pieces to put to paper too. But, really, I think that’s enough about me for now.
The train ride was short and hot. Even for an hour’s ride, I felt it went rather quickly. The car did get stuffy, and everybody removed their newly bestowed red jackets. They all knew they’d be photographed soon, and nobody wanted a bad photo. I couldn’t blame anyone. I had removed mine too. Eventually, the door to our car slid open. Two soldiers, a male measctha and female human stepped through. They wore almost the same uniforms as us, almost. They stood by the door and a moment later a man wearing a more decorated uniform than any of us entered.
“Right, you lot. Time to assign squads. Line up against the walls and we’ll count you off.” I had to stand as assigned. I was shoved between the shoulders of two other humans. The man came down, asking for names, then giving us a number, one through seven, and once he said seven, he told them that was a squad. Following behind him was a trail of men in uniforms similar to ours, with the exception of some gold embroidery on their collars and cuffs. They would approach each squad and introduce themselves. The man approached me. He was a human, fair skinned, green eyes, short brown hair, mustache, middle aged.
“Name, soldier?” He asked me.
“Two.” He said as he stepped away from me.
I was grouped together with two girls, both humans, a cheerful Measctha male, a standoffish human man who wore glasses, and a rather stocky Creach man. I wagered with the measctha he was from Bezembay. We were approached by a human man with a thick beard.
“My name is Colour Sergeant Ponsby. You will sound off when I call your name.” He spoke with a rather loud and strict tone of austerity. “Isabelle Furthfield,” One of the two women signaled by raising her hand. Ponsby looked at her, “I said you would sound off! You will not raise your hand. You will stand up and say ‘Aye, Sir!’ Do you understand me, Miss?” The sergeant shouted. The woman instantly nodded and jumped from where she was sitting.
“Aye Sir!” She shouted.
“Better. We’ll make soldiers from you lot yet.” he grumbled and stepped back from Private Furthfield. Furthfield was a blonde human, short, brown eyes, lean. If I wasn’t in the army I would even say she was attractive. “James Crosier.”
The Measctha man jumped next to Furthfield, “Aye Sir!” Like almost all of his kind, he had short blonde hair, long pointed ears, was lean, had a very fair face sprinkled with freckles, and stood at a height just taller than a human woman, but just shorter than a man.
“Willemina Chemford.” The other human woman moved to the line.
“Aye Sir!” She shouted. Now this one was taller than both in the line already. Now she was no beauty like Private Furthfield. She had wide shoulders, she was neither lean nor port, her face was average with more rounded cheeks. Her hair brown hair was put up in a bun.
I stood next to the others, “Aye Sir!”
The human with the glasses stood next to me, “Aye Sir!” He was about my height, with dark brown hair all buzzed down aside from a thick moustache. His body and mine were on par, both unathletic but favouring lean.
“Finally, Benjamin Thesiger.”
The large Creach moved next to me, “Aye Sir!” He had a Bezembay accent. No hair on this one, just the white and black fur that covered his body. He had two black stripes of fur that went over his eyes and went to colour the fur around his lips and the inside of his ears. Then went behind his ears and down the back of his neck. He had one additional black spot of fur on the underside of his neck. Long whiskers came from the side of his maw, and his nose was a large dark spot. He had large shoulders, with even larger arms. His chest was prominent.
The Colour Sergeant nodded. “Excellent. I expect all of you to perform your duties to the letter. Is that understood? You will go wherever high command decides the Iammelonian rebels need a good Bezannian solution. We will arrive at a battleship in a few minutes. From there you will spend four weeks in basic training. I will be present for this, and from there we will be deployed. For now, I need to teach you how to march in formation, and some rifle drills. Grab your rifles. Be quick too.”
We spent the next fifteen minutes being drilled on how to shoulder, order, port, and present our rifles. We then were also taught how to march. Our Colour Sergeant would march in front, then six of us would march in three rows of two at arm’s length, with one of us following in the rear. For now, Ponsby decided Thesiger would be in the rear. I was in the second row, at the far right of the line.
The train came to a halt, the brakes screeching and hissing as the our wooden and metal box slowed down to a halt. We assembled in formation near the rear of the car, where the door we would exit from was located. The door slid open, and we rushed out into the sun and confetti. The crowds here were cheering us on, happily singing the national anthem along with the marine band. The colour sergeant removed his sword from the scabbard and held it in the air.
“Rifles order!” He barked with a space between his words. We followed orders, of course. “Rifle Shoulder!” We brought our rifles from the ground to our shoulders and carried them that way. “Quick March!” He barked and off we went. We followed behind another squad, and there was a squad behind us too. This was a proper parade now, and ahead, the docks. Currently docked was a massive battleship draped in flags and confetti pieces. It was the biggest thing I had ever seen and it sat with so many other dazzling ships.
As we climbed the ramp onto the ship, I tried to strain my eyes as much as possible without moving my head. Trying to get one last glimpse out at Bezembay before I left. In the end I never did get that glimpse, and I was shown to my bunk bed in the center of the ship.
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