Angus scanned the shallow valley floor with his binoculars. Below him on the near slope were Duke Cunningham’s forces. Out in the valley, the Champignon’s chevaliers were charging the left side of Cunningham’s line. That flank was made up of light infantry mercenaries from Arcone. The Champignon commander knew an opportunity when he saw one.
“It appears, Colonel, Duke Cunningham either has tremendous faith in the Arconians, or zero in his own knights.”
“He’s an idiot, Commander,” Colonel Barneky spat. “It would be better to send out the knights.”
“If he did that, then he’d have to pay the mercenaries.”
The Arconians weren’t unprepared for such an event. They were professional soldiers and had sharpened poles waiting in the grass to be raised when the chevaliers were too close to stop. Others carried the formidable Lochaber ax. The stout blade on the long pole was augmented with a hook—perfect for snaring and pulling riders off mounts. Still, it was a contest between seven hundred Arconians and three hundred heavy cavalry with lances.
Angus stroked his beard as he studied the tactical situation in front of him. His four battalions of legionnaires were being kept in reserve. It appeared Cunningham’s plan was to sacrifice the Arconians and counterattack with his own knights. Which would make logical sense if the Arconians could hold the flank. Angus didn’t think they could. The Arconians would fight to the last, but Cunningham’s flank would be exposed and the Champignon’s light cavalry could roll up the flank into the center. Then Champignon would commit the bulk of their forces and Cunningham’s army would be fighting on two sides. Losing the battle to save some coin didn’t seem like a wise strategy to Angus.
“Well, Colonel, I don’t see any way this will go well for the duke.”
Barneky chortled. “I’m surprised Captain Logine agreed to this. I thought he was better.”
“I think he is, but he must obey his lord’s orders.”
“I’d like to see Cunningham explain losing to save a coin to King James, Commander.”
“Unfortunately, that shall not happen. I’m going to take battalions one and two and reinforce the Arconians.”
“Trying to look good for that Arconian beauty?”
Angus chuckled. He had a reputation as a lady’s man. He’d lost count of how many women he’d slept with. He’d only met Lady Rose briefly before the battle. Bedding her would give him a chance to obtain her DNA. He lacked samples from the Arconians for Project Omega. This would give him a chance to fill in some genetic gaps in his database.
“If she offers it as a reward, I won’t deny her, but we must win the battle first.”
“Show them how it’s done, Commander. Runner! Tell battalion one and two to move toward the Arconian line. They’re to reinforce them and defeat the chevaliers.”
“Yes, sir.” The legionnaire ran down the backside of the ridge to where the Legion waited.
“Colonel, when we’re done with the chevaliers, I’ll send up a flare. You’re to bring the remaining battalions onto the field in preparation for a counterattack. If Cunningham orders you in, use your best judgment. I don’t want my men wasted so he can save some coin and spare his own soldiers.”
“Yes, Commander. I’ll punch Cunningham in the nose if he tries anything as idiotic as this stunt.”
Angus chuckled. He didn’t mind if he had to smooth over an incident, it would be worth letting Barneky loose. The man was a combat soldier through and through—dependable, courageous, and intelligent. He wasn’t afraid to wade into the thickest fighting and he always came out on top. “Alright, Colonel. I’m off. I’ll see you on the other side. Private Mickelson, let’s go.”
“No sweat, Commander. Smash those Champignons in the nose.”
Angus and his aide jogged along the backside of the ridge, just in case someone was watching, to meet the battalions marching abreast up the hill.
Angus met his battalion commanders between the battalions as they crested the ridge.
“Danny, George, we’re going to reinforce the left flank. Champignon has sent their chevaliers against them. Attach a halberd team to each squad.”
“Will we use a firing line?” said Major Herbert.
“We’ll see when we get down there. I’ll give the order.”
Both men hurried to their commands as the battalions marched forward. Nothing like preparing a battle plan on the move.
Angus marched between the battalions as they marched down the hill. The battalions reshuffled themselves as they marched. Every legionnaire was a veteran with decades of experience. Angus only took the best and he expected the best. There were those outside the Legion who wondered why he took men at the end of their service. The Legion had many secrets, including how to extend the life of a man and make him feel young again.
The chevaliers reached the Arconian line before Angus’ battalions reached position. Many of the first wave of chevaliers met the sharpened pikes of the Arconians. The upset horses reared and threw their riders. Still, other chevaliers found their way through the pikes into the Arconian ranks. Once the chevalier had expended his lance from the charge, he drew his sword and hacked at the men around his mount.
“Mickelson! Sound melee arms!” Angus ordered as he strapped on his own shield and drew his sword. Mickelson was Angus’ aide and bugler. The man sounded the order and the battalions drew their swords and shields.
The second wave of Chevaliers reached the Arconian line. Only half the pikes remained and many more Chevaliers plowed deep into the Arconians.
The Arconians were skilled and took down the chevaliers with practiced precision teamwork. Once on the ground, the chevalier often found himself facing five or six Arconians and his heavy armor became a liability.
Angus knew the Arconians couldn’t bring all the chevaliers down and those left on horseback would reap massive casualties.
“Sound the charge!” Angus yelled. He broke into a run as did his battalions down the rest of the hill and into the back of the Arconian line just as the final wave of chevaliers penetrated the Arconian line. A few chevaliers had reached the back of the Arconian ranks. “Take them down! The rest of you move forward. Push them back!”
Around Angus, his legionnaires pushed forward, working to dismount chevaliers with their halberd axes or helping Arconians dispatch those already dismounted.
Angus maneuvered through the melee looking for Lady Rose. He expected her to be near the front. He thought he spotted the wily commander when a chevalier stepped in front of him. The man was bleeding from a wound to the shoulder. He swung his longsword. Angus blocked with his shield and countered with a thrust that the chevalier parried and then slammed Angus’ sword arm with his shield.
The armor plates on Angus’ arm and shoulder absorbed the blow. The Legion didn’t wear traditional armor like plate and chainmail but wore composite pieces that covered strategic areas of the body. The plates were nearly impossible to damage and much lighter and less bulky than traditional armor.
Angus slammed the edge of his metal shield against the chevalier’s breastplate, leaving a dent and knocking the man back. He thrust his sword up into the chevalier’s armpit. The chevalier’s arm and shield hung limp. The chevalier tried to drop the shield, but couldn’t get loose. As he struggled a group of Arconians fell on him.
Angus moved on toward the front in search of Lady Rose. He found her taking on two chevaliers at once. She was armed with a black katana and wakizashi. An odd set of weapons for her to have when none of the other Arconians wielded such swords.
Lady Rose parried and dodged attacks from both chevaliers, before stepping forward and slashing a chevalier across the front. The katana cut the plate armor like paper. She spun, cut the other chevalier’s shield in half—including his arm—and slashed through his neck. The head hit the ground and rolled coming to a stop at Angus’ feet.
“Lady Rose, I presume?” Angus smiled as he kicked the head aside.
“Commander Angus, what a pleasant surprise. I was under the impression Duke Cunningham was letting us have all the fun.”
She said it with a practiced smile that looked good framed by the rose tattoo that covered her face. Her eyes told a different story. Angus had seen it before in soldiers that had seen too much combat and death. It was a forlorn, far off stare. Like she really wasn’t seeing the world around her, just going through the motions.
“I evaluated the duke’s plan and I felt victory was anything but assured.”
“No faith in us?”
“I have every faith, my lady. But I wanted there to be more of you for the counterattack.”
“To get to counterattack, we must first get rid of what’s in our ranks.”
“Yes, my lady. My legionnaires are exterminating the chevaliers with due diligence.”
“It’s glad to know you’re not as big a fool as Cunningham.”
“I am a fool, my lady, but I do not compound it with ego or greed.”
A genuine smile crossed Lady Rose’s face. Her eyes lit making her beautiful, even covered in mud and blood.
“Maybe you’re not such a fool after all. What is your plan?”
“To defeat the chevaliers and use our combined forces to counterattack. I’ll signal the rest of my forces and we’ll march toward their lines. My legionnaires will draw them out and as we switch between weapons your forces protect us.”
“How do you plan on drawing them out?”
“With this.” Angus sheathed his sword and drew his light pistol. “My legionnaires are armed with larger versions. They fire a beam of light that can burn flesh and melt through metal in a few seconds.”
“What shaping is this?”
“Not shaping, just technology. The Legion has many secrets as, it appears, so do you.” Angus motioned to the katana.
“Dusk and Dawn have been in my family for generations. Passed from mother to daughter. I hope to give them to my daughter someday. They are perfectly sharp.”
Angus eyed the head on the ground. The cut was perfect. “They are very impressive. I hope you can tell me more later, Lady Rose.”
“I think I would enjoy that, Commander. Now, let’s clean up this mess. We are itching to go on the offensive.”
“Hopefully, Captain Logine will recognize an opportunity when he sees one.”
“He seemed like a sharp one, if not a little gloomy.”
“I would be gloomy, too, if I had to work for Cunningham.”
Lady Rose laughed. “Maybe he’s different when you get him alone. Come, let’s clear these barnacles.”
Project Omega Copyright 2019