Sunday, July 16, 2017

Rough Riders On Mars! Chapter 31 – Plotting Our Course

Chapter 31 – Plotting Our Course

“Well, it has been an eventful few weeks here.” I began, “There have been many changes and I think we need to evaluate the current situation and determine our best course of action.”

“Reytik’s government has been overthrown and there is currently nothing to take its place.” I continued. “The city is in distress after a great battle and while our friends were victorious, it is my belief that the leader of the opposition has escaped. We have no idea what Reytik’s ability will be to continue the conflict, if he so chooses. We have taken some serious casualties and it is a long time before we can expect reinforcements. Does anyone else have something to add?”

“I have some information,” said Professor Boas, “if I may.”

“Of course,” I said, “you have the floor Professor.”

“Thank you.” he said. “I believe that we have won over the citizens of Ceraunius and we will be safe here, provided that we can sure up its defenses. However, the area under Reytik’s jurisdiction covered a much wider area. How much of this area will be allied to us? I  believe the agrarian  region to the south is firmly behind the democracy movement. If this area can be secured and protected, that will keep us fed.

The north is marginally in Reytik’s camp while the east, I believe is his stronghold and it is to there I think he has gone. This is the area of reiciopondium mining, which is the major source of income for Ceraunius. Without this source of income, things will be difficult for our people.”

“That is troubling.” I said. “What about the western territory?” I asked.

“I can answer for the west Mr. Roosevelt.” Jordak said as she entered the room.

“Ah! Miss Jordak!” I exclaimed “How are you.”

“I am mending well, thank you.” She said. “To answer your question, most of the tribes in the west are with us. Those that are not… will be dealt with.”

“You mean Reytik’s hired ruffins?” I asked.

“Indeed.” She replied. “In a month or so, the west will be totally secure.”

“Bully!” I said. “That will be most beneficial. Now may I have an update on our men?”

Miss Linton gave the report. “We have lost seventeen men killed and have twenty-eight in hospital. Of the wounded, six will not recover sufficiently to return to duty, ten will take some months to recuperate, and the remainder will be back to duty in a matter of weeks.”

“So, we are down one full platoon, and a second for a couple of months at best.” I said. “This is wholly unsustainable. We must protect ourselves better in the future.”

“Can we protect ourselves, considering the chaos surrounding us?” said Lt. William Griffin.

“Weren’t you tellin’ us about the disorganization in the democracy movement?” said Lt. John Thomas Jr. “With friends like that…”

“We must have friends, no matter their condition.” Professor Boas retorted. “Besides, though he may not know it yet, I believe that they have found their leader.”

“Borlak.” I said. “So you think he can unify the disparate factions?”

“If anyone can bring order from this chaos, it is he” Professor Boas said.

“Indeed,” said Professor Linton “his faction is the largest and most influential. Also he has friends in most of the other groups and his…, business associates, have connections that can benefit us greatly.”

“The question is not whether we have friends, I am assured that we do.” I said. “The question is can they get organized and trained to protect their nascent state.”

“It is in the military training that you and your men will be of most value to Ceraunius.” Jordak said. “I have seen your ways of fighting. Though your weapons are superior, it is your methods that give you the advantage. These people must be taught to fight like Earthmen if Ceraunius will remain free.”

“Jordak is correct.” Chronto said “Just look at what the Scouts have done. Before we were trained in your ways, we would have been no better than Reytik’s soldiers.”

“Then it will be up to us to provide a force to defend Ceraunius while the diplomats organize a government.” I said. “How we must ask the question,; how long will it take for these people to get organized. With the society segmented as it is, do they even have any concept of what needs to be done?”

“The folks from the rural areas will have little knowledge of the workings of government,” Miss Linton said “however, the people from Ceraunius proper have had regular dealings with the administration. Also, there are several junior officials that have joined the movement and they will be crucial to setting up the administration.”

“Miss Linton,” I said, “since you have been more engaged with the democracy movement, I will count on you to be the main contact with the convention. Of course, I will also lend my expertise to the conversation, but my main focus must be on the defense force. Chronto and Miss Jordak, what can we expect in the way of numbers and experience of recruits?”

“I believe we will get many men from the city.” Chronto said. “these will be of little initial value, but in time they will be decent soldiers. The men we can get from rural areas will be the quicker to train, but the harder to assemble.”

“It will take me longer to assemble my fighters,” Jordak said, “but the men I bring will have an advantage in experience and skill.”

“The addition of your mounted tribesmen will give us a mobile strike force that we definitely need.” I said. “I will need your men to teach mine how to ride as well.”

“We will bring in some additional mounts with us.” Jordak said.

“Thank you.” I said. “Now let us turn to our strategic defense. Professor Boas, you said that Reytik most likely fled to the East, correct?”

“Yes, that is where the former government’s greatest support is located.” He said.

“Well then, we shall start by building defensive positions on that side of town.” I said. “Next, we will fortify the northern approaches to the city, as Reytik has friends in that direction. Finally, we’ll complete the circuit to the west and south. We shall start patrolling the area with the Iska Mahayi as far to the east as is prudent, perhaps we may get some news of our enemy that way. That means we’ll have to use ground patrols in all other directions.”

“Colonel,” Lieutenant Fisher said “that will leave us awfully thin if an attack does come.”

“I agree,” I said “but I see no other alternative in the short term. I would like to run telegraph lines up each of the canals and establish lookout posts, but we haven’t enough wire or generators.”

“In its natural state, the reiciopondium mined nearby produces a static charge when agitated.” Professor Linton said. “Perhaps it can be used to make some sort of generator to power a telegraph.”

“And perhaps Alba can produce the wire we would need.” Said Professor Edgren.

“Alba?”, I asked “I know it is to the east of here, but I know little else. Why do you believe they have the capacity for such work?”

“Alba is only surpassed by Cophen in technological advancements.” Professor Edgren said. “You see, they were controlled by the Nagy Fej right up to the defeat of their overlords by our space fleet. It was the residents of Alba and Cophen that constructed the Nagy Fej spacecraft and because those craft contain copper wire, one must assume that they can produce it.”

“Then we must figure a way to get around Reytik and purchase as much wire and reiciopondium as possible.”

“I think Borlak can help us with this.” Chronto said. “He is a trader after all.”

“Bully!” I said “When I can get a moment of Borlak’s time, I will make the arrangements. I think our plans are taking good shape, so let us start putting them into action.”

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Rough Riders On Mars! - Chapter 30 – Securing The City

Chapter 30 – Securing The City

After Chronto had left, Lieutenant Ballard and I continued our conversation. 

“You know Colonel,” he said “I didn’t think I’d be fighting in a civil war when I signed up.”

“Nor did I Charlie.” I replied. “I had no idea what we’d be getting in to, but this situation had not even crossed my mind.”

“Don’t get me wrong,” Charlie said “I’m glad I volunteered and I expected to do a good bit of fighting, but I didn’t expect to be building a new government. I figured it would be more like Indian fighting, at least until we got more men out here.” 

“I guess I was thinking along similar lines.” I said “But we’re in too deep now to get out and there is no where we could go anyway. However, I think we’ll do alright. We can trust Borlak. We’ll help him and the people of Ceraunius to form a strong, fair, and peaceful society.” 

“What about Reytik?” Lieutenant Ballard asked. “I imagine he and his cronies high-tailed it out of here once the real shooting started.” 

“I am sure he will be a thorn in our side,” I replied. “but I think we and the Martian people can keep him in check. After all, a strong, fair, and peaceful society must have the means to protect its self and maintain the peace. Borlak knows that and he also knows that he can count on us to help build the instrument that will maintain the peace.” 

At that moment, Chronto reentered the room with Borlak behind. 

“Thank you, Mr. Roosevelt” Borlak said “we will definitely require your assistance.” 

“Peace will benefit both of us.” I said “However, we must take care of the immediate threat of Reytik's soldiers first. Do you have any news of their leader?” 

Borlak replied “Neither he nor his minions have been seen since the fighting began. I fear they have fled the city early this morning.” 

“That could cause problems in the near future.” I said. “Still, we must clear the city of his soldiers before we worry about Reytik. Then we must secure the environs around the city. My men are ready to help with that task, but we are afraid we will mistake your men for the enemy.” 

“If you will have your troops work in the area around your fort, I will supply you with guides to identify the hostiles.” Borlak suggested. 

“That will be most satisfactory.” I replied.  

I had Lieutenant Wilcox take care of the arrangements and lead the troops. I also sent for Professors Edgren and Boas along with Miss Linton. It was time for a serious meeting with Borlak concerning the future of Ceraunius.

Soon the men were off going house to house and building to building looking for Reytik’s tribesmen. There was little resistance as the fight seems to have been taken out of our foe. Our men fired a few shots at the die-hards while the rest gave up with little to no trouble. We found a warehouse to hold the prisoners in until we figured out what to do with them. By the end of the day, our sector of the city was cleared. The rest of the city was free of the enemy by morning. 

With the city cleared, we set up a hospital near our station in the city. Here, friend and foe alike were treated and healed of their hurts with no prejudice. It was hoped that such treatment would pacify the desert tribesmen, which would in turn make raising an army more difficult for Reytik.

As our men canvassed the city, I continued my conversation with Borlak.

‘So, what are your plans?” I asked.

“I am not sure.” Borlak replied. “None of us in the movement expected this day to come so soon.”

“But the movement does have a number of prominent members from different parts of society, correct?” I said.

“Why, yes.” He answered.

“Then I would suggest an immediate meeting with these people.” I said. “With the city secured, we must tend to the injured and displaced, remove the dead, and clean up the debris of war before disease and pestilence ravage Ceraunius.”

“Of course!” Borlak exclaimed. “Mr. Roosevelt, I am truly thankful that you have such a clear grasp of the situation. At this time, I am very muddled in my thinking.”

“You will need to clear your head quickly,” I said “for once the cleanup has begun, you and your fellows will have to determine the path your new government will take. That is a much more serious question with greater consequences than what to do in the aftermath of a battle.”

“Indeed, that is true.” Borlak replied. “I will call for a meeting directly.”

“Good, my advisors will be at your disposal whenever you need them.” I said.

“Thank you for everything, Mr. Roosevelt” Borlak said. “Your help will be needed more than ever.”

With that, Borlak left to Make his arrangements. Shortly thereafter, Professors Edgren and Boas, Miss Linton, and my officers not on duty arrived. We gathered in the office to discuss the recent events and determine our next course of action.