“Your offer was very tempting, Orlin ArdAnkadia, but your brother had a more compelling argument for why we should keep him alive. Needless to say, we won’t be returning him to you. That said, I wish to thank you for all the salvage you so graciously delivered to us. While I am not very fond of the Danag Mark Two, four battalions worth of them are nothing to be sneered at. We’ll be certain to rebuild them and put them to good use. Mother bless.”
Orlin closed the audio message from First Mother Mesra Vrayl. Despite the loss of his battalions, not an entirely surprising outcome, he had thought the worst of his problems were at an end when he received her first message asking him what kind of deal he would make for the death of his brother.
But no. He should have known better. This was not that kind of day.
He considered smashing his computer into tiny bits, but decided against it. Certainly he would feel better, but consoles of this quality were still an uncommon item, even in the capitol, and there was a considerable amount of data stored locally on this one. Rage like he was feeling was better expended in a woman. If he happened to break one of those, there was always another.
He glanced at his bed, empty at the moment but still rumpled from his nap and the girl his servants had brought earlier in the day. How he would have loved to have Mesra Vrayl there right now, tied up and helpless. Kai damned Irtrallan bitch. She had best hope she wasn’t captured alive when he finally took Emprin.
He imagined what he would do to her for a minute, then cut himself off. This was not a productive line of thought.
He pulled up HarMakeg’s latest military report and looked at that instead. According to the update, four battalions of Black Wolf Legion armor were on the way to Emprin from various parts of Okend. The last of them would make it there in about five days. Several battalions of Red Knives had also arrived in Ambril and were tearing through ArPegel’s forces. HarMakeg was certain the man would surrender within two days at most.
Good, but not sufficient. The Warsisters had torn four whole Imperial battalions to pieces with ease, and from the after-battle report that the remaining battalion had sent him, it didn’t look like they had used even a quarter of their estimated numbers to do it. Even with ArPegel’s artillery he would still need a much larger force than he had first thought in order to break them.
What was their advantage? Training and technology were obvious, but they had something more. So far they had reacted with surprising speed to his every action, as if their surveillance capabilities far exceeded his own. His analysts were on it, but hadn’t figured it out just yet.
Soon enough, they would. Every day brought more data for them to work with.
In the meantime, he needed to put together the largest invasion force the Empire had assembled in a century.
He commed PirChallin. The VarTegar appeared in his video feed, still dressed in his uniform even though it was night. In his defense, he did have his collar unbuttoned and had a rosy look on his cheeks like he had been drinking.
“I need ten-thousand anchors, plus support troops and vehicles, to bolster the forces already headed to Emprin.”
PirChallin froze, except for his left cheek, which developed a sudden tic.
After a moment he thawed.
“That… is a lot of troops, your Majesty.”
“I am well aware. Pull as much from the Imperial military as you can. Are the conscription efforts proceeding well?”
“We’ve really only just started, but yes. We’re mostly pulling from the south, and the provinces whose warlords haven’t supported their gerzais for the past few centuries.”
“Good. We’ll need to rebuild.” Especially after the day’s losses. “I am sending you a list of concessions. Offer them to whatever warlords you need to fill out the rest of the troops. And let them know we will finally be getting rid of those damned Irtrallans. Call it a cleansing.”
He transferred the file through the network. Ten seconds later he saw PirChallin glance down at the corner of his screen and tap on something. By the motion of his eyes Orlin could tell he was reading.
“I know just who will want some of these, your Majesty. I’m certain I can use this to get your troops.”
“Good. Message me the moment you have a timetable. I want those troops for the Emprin invasion as soon as possible.”
“I will see to it, your Majesty.”
“I’m sure you will. Enjoy the rest of your night.” He closed the line and relaxed. He had no doubt PirChallis would get the forces he needed. And when they were assembled…
When they were assembled he would smash the defenses at Emprin and drag every single one of those cursed Warsisters out of that province by their hair and instruct them himself.
Starting with Mesra Vrayl.
This chapter is part of the in-progress serial web novel The Unbroken Blade, intended to be book one in The Shattered Empire trilogy, and features a mix of sci-fi and thematic elements reminiscent of near-future military fiction such as Gasaraki or Isaac Hooke’s Atlas series and sci-fi combat classics such as Mechwarrior/Battletech and Gundam. The story is rich with battle and conflicts of honor and conscience arising around a civil war on the forested world of Dankar, far from our own, but is primarily focused on how the main characters deal with the challenges they face, not their machines or their world. Follow this blog to receive each chapter as soon as it is released. Like and share to give me a shot of encouragement. Full chapter updates on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.