Under a new sky – chapter 23

Note: this is a work of fiction, with all the usual stuff about copyright and permission. It’s also a work in progress and a way to develop my knowledge of the english language. So feel free to correct, debate, laugh, ask about it in the comments. Help appreciated.

You may find the index here.

Chapter twenty-three.

Halkan’s army was on the move. Losing his tactical advantage with the destruction of his cavalry regiment was too much for the prince to hold on to his own battle plan. So they were retreating, heading back south and keeping formation at regiment level to hold King Harkoon’s heavy cavalry at bay. They were following the course of the river, both to secure a flank and to have an easy access to water. Harkoon’s army was still near the capital, it looked like the king was more than happy to avoid a major battle. Small groups of explorers were tracking the progress of the rebels, maybe somebody was hoping to return to “status quo ante” . I did not agree.

Short after dawn I was already on the opposite side of the river, running at top speed to reach the vanguards of the rebels. Halkan was escorted by a small group of armored riders, some kind of honor guard for the wannabe king. As I spotted him a good part of his soldiers already got me in their crosshairs, my guess was that the tale of the missing regiment was more than enough to keep their attention focused. They tried to got me with hundreds of arrows, a good part of them steel-tipped. I was too far from them to be worried about it but it was strange for me to see an entire army react to a single enemy. What I had to do was to take my chances and jump to the other side of the river, my will to revenge was overwhelming.

The hologram appeared at my left all of a sudden, in a blue androgyn form similar to SIMCU.

Howard, please stop. Halkan is a key figure to control the southern territories. His death will be a major problem for my plans.”

Fuck off and die, you moron! Zeranta will be a better place without that bastard.”

You need to consider the future of this planet. We have to prepare for the Storm as fast as we can and if you destabilize the southern part of this kingdom it will be…”

I didn’t heard what was next, I was already jumping to the other side.

My move wasn’t a surprise for the archers but the length of my jump was too much for them. I landed right on top of an infantry unit, scattering them all around like poker cards. Then I crossed the whole army, killing everybody who wasn’t fast enough to clear from my path. It was bloody madness all over again, my run left a trail of maimed bodies and screams of agony through the rebel forces. Many groups panicked and try to run away from me, adding more and more confusion in the army like a shock wave in the sea. Omniplan was trying to distract me, its avatar popping up almost all around. The effect was to add more chaos, there was no choice at all for a formation to regroup and try an organized defense.

hulk scream

It took me less than two minute to cut through the whole of Halkan’s army. All of a sudden I found myself on a open ground, the armored riders that were the honor guard of the prince were waiting for me with their lances leveled for a charge. The prince himself was running away as fast as he could, his great horse was gaining ground every second. I was running at full tilt when I noticed that all the tips of their lances weren’t made of bronze but steel, so at very last moment I leapt. One of them managed to throw his lance at me, missing my legs for less than five inches. As I touched ground again I resumed my run while the riders turned their horses to pursue me.

Too late for them and too late for the prince. In a minute I reach him, he was completely concentrated on his horse, a black giant that was running at an amazing speed. I didn’t want to kill such an animal, so I jumped against Halkan, pushing him off the saddle. He fall down like a brick, the impact was quite hard for him. Without his armor he will not be able to survive. His mount continued to run away. I picked him before his riders could reach us and I took him away, a mighty jump after another, going back to the river. As I’ve promised it was payback time, that big bastard had to pay the price for what he did to me and Kellan.

Halkan was a tough bastard. When he woke up, a few minutes after sunset, he immediately realized the situation. I stripped him down of his armor and weapons, retrieving my old Bowie with great joy. Slowly he set himself straight, a big man dressed in rags and full of bruises from the fall from his warhorse. He was even bigger than me.

Why don’t you kill me before sunset brown man? Are you already so mad to believe you can stand against me?”

I’ve stashed away all our weapons. It was man to man, like it had to be. He was a warrior, hardened by a life of combat in this world. He was younger than me, bigger than me and he was desperate to save his own life. But it was payback time.

Halkan tried some punches at me, a very fast sidekick and to grab me in a bear hug. No luck at all in it, I was always a step forward his attacks. I didn’t strike back a lot, just a few jabs in the face to keep him enraged. In a few minutes he was sweating and swearing, I was feeling like a mix between Muhammad Ali and Bruce Lee. Omniplan was watching us, trying to help the prince with futile indications that were worth nothing in the middle of a fight. I saw an opening and I got Halkan blocked with an aikido move on his right arm.

Omniplan, are you recording what’s going on?”

I always record everything. Please stop doing that, we need Halkan alive for our plans and…”

I quit listening. When you’re breaking another man’s arm you must be concentrated. His right omerus gave way with a loud crack, the following scream was delightful. He was in shock, so I had all the time in the world to get his left arm in the same block.

I can stand against you. As a matter of fact, if you’re the best around here I will have no problem at all.”

Another loud crack, another broken bone. His screams were quite desperate by then.

Now listen. You don’t fuck with an American soldier.”

I kicked him hard on his right knee, he collapsed down with another scream.

You don’t fuck with my woman.”

Left knee, that was even better. Halkan was in shock, his breath ragged and short. I stepped back to get my knife. That son of a bitch got to suffer until the end.

Omniplan, is the king looking at what’s going on?”

Yes, he is.”

Very good. Now comes the best part. Look and learn, because if he does not step down from the throne now this will be his future”.

I cut open Halkan’s belly. Believe it or not, he could still scream.

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