|WARRIORS OF THE SOUND CURRENT
From Chapter 10: The Battle of Shambondo (Excerpt)
|Lifting his field glasses, Duke Merozuna scanned the plain below, estimating the distance,
watching the royal army begin to draw up in disciplined rows, their scouts scurrying back
from across the plains to report the enemy’s arrival. Lowering the glasses, he said, “We’ll
wait here and let them come to us as far as they’ll go. They outnumber us more than three
to one – it would appear cowardly if they held back. At least, I hope that’s how they see it.”
On second thought he almost regretted having given the order to form up on the ridge.
Looking to left and right, he could see the dust-coated hulls of his massive armored
behemoths roll up over the gentle ridge and grind to a stop, one after another. Not counting
the scout jeeps and supply trucks, he had close to eight hundred attack vehicles in his
force – manned by twenty Warriors apiece. When the dust settled, the royals would be able
to see they were up against a mighty fleet of heavy mechanized cavalry such as had never
before been assembled on the face of Vismak.
Each of the vehicles had a pair of elongated contraptions in its turret – one on either side.
Swivel-mounted, the weapons were unrecognizable under their cloth dust covers.
Merozuna fervently hoped their secret hadn’t been discovered by the enemy . . . his whole
strategy in the face of overwhelming numbers rested on surprise.
“All units! Switch off engines!” he barked over the general push. “We wait here!”
He turned back to view the approaching formations on the plain below. Unexpectedly, the
duchess next to him gripped his left hand. She smiled as he looked at her in surprise. “This
is the moment you’ve been waiting for, my Lord. All the years of planning: First taking over
the Duchy of Njoma, then building the new weapons and the battle wagons, and then the
endless training and drilling in secret – everything has led to this point! King Djamena will
fall! He’ll pay for everything he did to your father and to the County of Alhur. Your time has
Her proud smile was as bright as the morning sun. An answering smile tugged at the duke’s
lips as he placed his right hand on hers. “Our time has come, Love – yours no less than
mine. When Djamena has paid the price for his unjust attack we’ll strike directly for Asuva.
The kingdom will be ours! You’ll sit at my side in the royal palace.” Merozuna allowed his
smile to broaden. “I happen to think you’d make a beautiful and formidable queen.”
Mangala flushed, disengaging her hand. “We’ve got a battle to win first, my
The duke nodded agreement and returned his attention to the field. As he’d hoped, the
king, counting the Njoman battle wagons through his binoculars, kept on coming. Djamena
had over twice the number of troop transports, many more jeeps, and enough infantry
brigades to overwhelm his adversary with sheer numbers. To him, victory had to seem only
a matter of time. Yet his overconfidence would be his undoing, the duke thought grimly.
Djamena obviously was ignorant of the devastating capabilities of the ordnance he faced.
Merozuna’s finger hovered over the intercom button. When the royal force was about 300
yards away he pressed it down. “Start engines!” he ordered on the general channel.
Under the deep-treaded wheels the ground trembled as the big motors
spun up . . .