Sunday, April 30, 2017

Rough Riders On Mars! - Chapter 29 – Reunion At The Alamo Station



Chapter 29 – Reunion At The Alamo Station
The street was littered with debris and bodies from the building we had destroyed. Cautiously, I led my men around the wreckage and to the front of our station. The exterior f the station was pock-marked with hundreds of bullet holes. Seeing the damage, I wondered how any of my men survived. As I came to the door a voice rang down from above.

“Boy Colonel! You really know how to make an entrance!” it said.

“Why, thank you!” I replied. “How are things here? It looks as though you’ve had a hell of a time.”

“Well, them Martians kept us on our toes, but it wasn’t anything we couldn’t handle.” The man said.

“Bully!” I replied. “Is Lieutenant Ballard about?” I asked.

“Yep!” he said, “and you can see him once the barricades are removed from the door.”

“Thank you, Sir!” I said. My men and I then moved around to the main door. I could hear the work going on behind the doorway. Shortly, the noise died away and the door came open. Lieutenant Ballard was the first to emerge. He was covered in grime and I could see a bandage under his hat, but he seemed to be fit.

“Charlie, what happened to you!” I exclaimed

“Reytik’s men spent a lot of time trying to knock down our watchtower with their artillery.” He said. “They finally succeeded last night, and I was just a little too close to it when it came down. I was covered with debris and got a bump on the head, but nothing to write home about.”

“How has the troop faired?” I asked.

“We’ve been hit hard, there’s no question about that.” Lieutenant Ballard replied. “Let’s go inside and sit down and I’ll give you my report.”

“Excellent idea.” I said. I ordered my men to take up positions on the walls and keep an eye out for hostiles. Then Lieutenant Coleman, Chronto, and I followed Lieutenant Ballard to his office. We took our seats around the table and Lieutenant Ballard began his tale.

“Things were pretty quiet for the first couple of days, but I knew it wouldn’t last. Borlak came by and told me that desert tribesmen were arriving by the hundreds. Fighting began in the outskirts of town on the third day after you left. It was sporadic at first, but became more intense after nightfall. Borlak’s men made a good fight of it, but there were just too many of them. Borlak was continually pulling back and Reytik was gaining more control over the city.

On the fifth day, Reytik’s forces came to our block. Borlak’s troops were holed up in the buildings covering our flanks and rear. First, Reytik tried to overwhelm us by an assault with a great number of his soldiers. The densely packed streets made it a turkey shoot for our machineguns and riflemen. We mowed the poor devils down in swathes.

After that, they disappeared for a couple of hours. Then, all of a sudden, the buildings to the west there collapsed. Once the dust settled, they started shooting at us with their artillery. Fortunately for us they only had a few guns that could out-range our michineguns, They tried moving some of those fire projectors up close, but we were able to cut down their crews before they could do any damage.

Anyway, they used their heavy guns to knock down our watchtower. I guess that was some sort of moral victory for them. Either way, it was better for us, because had they been pounding our walls instead, I have no doubt that our casualties would have been much higher, if we would have survived at all.

The tower came down about dawn. With that, the Martians renewed their assault on our position. I think that was about the same time you started your attack on the forces surrounding the fort. It wasn’t too long after that when we spotted the first groups of Martians fleeing through the city.

Then things got confusing. We were being attacked from one side and in other places Martians were fighting Martians or one group of Martians was chasing another that was fleeing. I assumed this was Borlak attacking Reytik’s men. We couldn’t tell who was who, so I ordered my men to only shoot at those who were actually shooting at us.

Then there was that massive explosion to the east. That made the Martians scurry around
even more. At that point, there was no way to tell friend from foe, so I ordered the men into cover. We kept up a watch to make sure no one was sneaking up on us to blow the gates or something like that.

Some of Reytik’s men rallied in that building to the North and put up a heavy fire on us. They you came along and put an end to their little party.”

After he had finished, I asked “How many men did we lose here, Charlie?”
“Six killed, and fourteen wounded, a couple pretty bad.” Lieutenant Ballard replied.

“You have done well.” I said. “We will move your wounded to the fort with our other injured fellows as soon as possible. That way Miss Linton and the others will have a much easier time of caring for them.”

“So you rescued her. Is she alright?” Charlie asked.

“Yes, she was unharmed.” I answered.

“Then well done to you, Sir!” He said.
“Thank you.” I replied. “Now we need to determine what to do next. We must remove all of Reytik’s remaining soldiers from town.”

“But we can’t tell the friendly Martians from the enemy, until they start shooting at us, that is.” Lieutenant Ballard said.

Chronto then suggested “ I will send some of my men to find Borlak and bring him here. Then we can coordinate our actions.”

“Bully!” I cried. “That is an excellent idea. Please make the arrangements immediately.”

“I will be back shortly.” Chronto replied. With that, he was up and out the door.