Tuesday, October 31, 2023

The Long March - What Was Old Is New Again

Telemaco Signorini
The children in the village called him "the old man," which didn't bother him, much. He was, after all, only in his early 60s, not that old, all things considered. But in an area where the chief occupation for men was soldiering, having men around past the age of 60 was something of a rarity. It's not that the men from this area died early (though some did), but that they went off to join the regulars and never returned.

His name was Jonathan, son of Eleazar, but everyone in the village called him "the General." In his country that had been, in times long past, an honorary rank only conferred upon a man (no woman had ever attained that position) for specific duties. Such as command of an army composed of multiple columns.¹ During the Border War of a decade ago, he had been given command of such a force. The people of his village remembered that and honored him with the title. His mail was still addressed using his permanent rank of Colonel.

Now he sat at his desk which looked out over the valley. He could see all the way to the plains on a clear day. Today, at this elevation, they were experiencing a spring snowfall. It was accumulating but wouldn't last on the ground more than a day or so. He had the thought that the local farmers who eked out a living on the thin soil of the mountains called a snowfall such as this, "poor man's fertilizer." He remembered his mother telling him that when he was a boy. For some reason that had stuck with him through the years.

He looked again at the letter, it was on official stationary and bore the florid prose so beloved of bureaucrats everywhere. The man who had transcribed the letter had excellent handwriting, easy to read and pleasant to look at. But the content bothered him.

For the letter ordered him to report to the nearest garrison, he had been recalled to active service. His honorary rank of General had been reinstated and he was to report immediately upon receipt of the letter.

He looked up at the messenger, the man was soaked to the bone from riding up the trail in the spring snowstorm. "Have a seat by the fire ..." he looked at the man's uniform for some clue as to his rank, the man's insignia was a mystery to him.

"Centurion, Sir. I'm with the Imperials."

"Ah, of course, that was created after I retired. Anyway, sit man, a glass of brandy perhaps?"

"That would be appreciated, Sir."

The General nodded to his batman, one of the perks of his attaining the position of General was the lifetime right to a personal servant. His, the man's name was Jonathan, was more of a friend than a servant, though he insisted on doing his duties as specified in the regulations.

"Wouldn't be proper, Sir. After all, part of my pension covers my expenses as your batman." Jonathan had pointed out to the General.

As the messenger sipped his brandy and let the fire warm him, he was watching the General closely. Finally he spoke, "If it pleases you, Sir, you can ride back with me in the morning." Suggesting, perhaps, that the General was reluctant to fulfill his duties.

"Jonathan, have the stables prepare our mounts. I presume you have rations for the trip already packed?"

"Of course, General."

Turning to the messenger, the General said, "Why wait until morning? We can leave within the hour, the day is still young."

The messenger had hoped for a night in a warm bed, perhaps with a local lass for company. Now he realized that the General was set upon obeying his new orders to the letter.

The General thought that the young centurion covered his disappointment well, just not well enough. Why wait, he thought, the orders said "upon receipt," couldn't be clearer than that.

The Chamberlain was waiting outside of the Ruler's office. He had heard shouting from within moments ago, he had rushed to the door only to be stopped by the guardsman on duty.

"It's nothing, Sir. The Ruler and his wife were having, let's say, a discussion. Nothing to it, happens all the time."

The Chamberlain nodded, he knew that was a frequent occurrence. The Ruler was getting less cognizant with each passing day and his wife was really running things these days. If word of that got out, it could present difficulties for everyone in the palace.

The Chamberlain stepped past the guardsman, giving him a look which brooked no interference, and knocked once upon the door, then twice. From within he heard ...


The Chamberlain stepped into the room. The Ruler was looking out of a window, a rather blank look on his face. His wife looked harried and tired.

"Ma'am," he said and gestured towards the opposite side of the room, knowing that what he had to say might cause an outburst from the Ruler.

She stepped over to him as they crossed the room, "What is it, Chamberlain?"

"His Eminence is here."

"Here in the palace?"

"Yes Ma'am, he's in the anteroom."

"Dear Lord ..."

The man known as "His Eminence" had arrived at the palace unannounced. He was gravely concerned with the situation in the capital. He and his escort had seen the cohorts proceeding towards the laborers' quarter as they rode in. He had resisted the urge to ask the lead cohort's commander what their orders were. For one thing, he suspected it was to make a statement, a violent one, in the laborers' quarter, for another thing, his presence in the capital was supposed to be a secret. For all the populace knew he was happily retired to his private island off the coast and no longer involved in public affairs.

"Your Eminence!" the Ruler's wife greeted him cheerfully.

He nodded, "Madam." She insisted on being addressed as "Your Highness," something he refused to do. In his day she would have been nothing, an ornament on her husband's arm, no more.

"What brings you to the capital?" she asked, ingenuously.

He raised an eyebrow, surely the woman couldn't be that stupid?

"Have the Council summoned immediately, we need to ..."

"Your Eminence, it isn't your place to ..."

"Now, Madam." His tone left no room for disagreement.

The lead cohort was on the main boulevard, two cohorts were behind them, the other cohorts were each on a side street to either flank advancing slightly behind the main body. The mounted auxiliaries were with the lead cohort except for a small party well to the front on reconnaissance.

The First Spear, leading the cohort in place of his Prefect who had been a no-show at the morning muster, was nervous. The advance had gone smoothly, he had expected resistance well before now. Perhaps the intelligence they had received was ...

"Sir!" came the shout from his second-in-command.

Galloping down the boulevard was a single horseman, one of the auxiliaries, the First noticed an arrow in his mount's rump. He raised a hand to halt the advance.

The auxiliary galloped up and pulled his horse to a stop, the animal's shoes raising sparks from the cobblestones. "Beggin' yer pardon, yer Worship, but the streets are full o' people up ahead. We was ambushed, my decurion² is dead, as are most of my mates! I escaped by the skin o' my teeth, Lord."

"Damn it man, pull yourself together!" the smell of blood was making his own mount nervous and he was trying to keep the horse under control.

"How many of them? Damn it, did you see how many?" He barked at the horseman.

"Thousands my Lord, there be thousands of 'em" And without a 'by your leave' the man turned his horse and fled.



"Send a party after that rascal. Stop him by any means or we'll have panic in the city."


Magnus was still shaking, the auxiliaries had come down the boulevard at speed, shouting at the people behind the barricade to disperse. Before he could react a shot had rang out and one of the auxiliaries had crashed to the cobblestones, dead.

The others had milled about, not sure of what to do, trying to control their mounts and discern what they were up against. Cyrus had looked at him, waiting for an order to be given.

"FIRE AT WILL!" Magnus had bellowed. More shots rang out, more auxiliaries had died as did a number of horses. Two men had staggered to their feet, trying to ready their weapons as one of their number, still mounted, had turned and fled. A man on a upper story of a nearby building had loosed an arrow at the man.

The arrow had struck the horse and caused the animal to go even faster, nearly unhorsing its rider.

Before Magnus or Cyrus could get things under control, one of their own was lying in the street, dying. The two surviving auxiliaries had been hacked to death with swords and axes.

Blood had been shed on both sides. The rebellion had spread to the capital.

"Rider ahead, Sir." The Sergeant had noticed the mounted man heading their way. She had the best eyesight in the unit.

The Major looked up, sure enough, what appeared to be a dispatch rider was galloping hell-for-leather down the road.

"Send word back to the Colonel. Everybody stay on your toes, this person might not be what he or she appears to be."

The troops were nervous. Most of them had participated in the massacre of the Imperials. They knew that the rebel militia was shadowing their movement to the border garrison. As far as they were concerned, no news was probably good news.

The rider brought news.

"Sir, where is the column commander?" the messenger shouted as she reined in her mount.

The Major noted that the soldier was a lieutenant, an odd choice for a messenger he thought. "My colonel has been sent for, he should be up shortly. I am the senior major, what news?"

The lieutenant thought for a moment before she answered, "I'd like to give the full details when the column commander comes up, but I'll tell you this now, the Meridionals came across the border in force yesterday."

The Major went pale, war on the border and war within the country itself, what could possibly go wrong next?

The Colonel took the dispatches from the messenger and spoke with her in private for a few long minutes, then she headed off, to the south.

"Major, we're in the shit now I think."

"As if we weren't before."

"The lieutenant tells me that the garrison is holding their own for now, but that won't last. They need us and quickly."

"We could send a battalion on ahead of the main body, leave all of their wagons and baggage with the main column. The remaining battalions will come up as quick as they can. I'd say abandon the baggage altogether, but with the rebels about ..."

"I know, we'd never see the train again, and we'll be needing that. You know the garrison will burn down their supplies faster with the Meridionals hitting them, they might need the train as well. My troops are in pretty good shape, we'll go on ahead, if you want, Colonel."

"I'll have Simon and Paul give you their best companies as well, so that way ..."

"No need, Sir, you might need them here if the rebels get frisky."

"Alright, when will you ..."

"We'll leave immediately."

The Colonel nodded, then extended his hand, "Godspeed, we'll come up as quickly as we can."

¹ In this fictional world there are no brigades or divisions. A column, commanded by a senior colonel, would be composed of multiple regiments, a regiment typically being composed of two or more battalions. The use of terms such as "cohort" only came about under the current ruler when it was thought necessary to raise a body of troops loyal only to the ruler. An army was typically raised for a particular campaign and would be composed of multiple columns, divisions in modern parlance.
² See here for a description of the ranks of the Roman legions.

Monday, October 30, 2023

So it begins!

Well, Campers, its been one of those weeks. Lotta good things happened, but storm clouds are on the horizon. 

It's Saturday night and Mrs. J and I have returned to College Station. Shortly after we departed Wednesday, MBD had a OB/GYN appointment. During said appointment, they reached an agreement that if Labor hadn't started by Friday, the young fellow would be enticed to come out from his comfy abode. 

 I believe it's called "induced", but what do I know? 

 The young Lad must truly be of my bloodline as he stayed warm and comfortable through the deadline.

 Encouragement was applied and lo and behold, our first Grand Son arrived Friday afternoon, just in time for Happy Hour. He's got Fighter Pilot in his blood I swear. 

 This resulted in a bit of a logistics problem as 1 & 364/365's year old Sister needed a bit of company.

 Our in-law counterparts were able to pull the shift through Saturday afternoon but had other engagements for the rest of the weekend. 

 So, we're in College Station again. Got to see the young lad that afternoon. A strapping young man, born with more hair on his head than his Grandfather has. 

 The Tactical Call Sign Committee has yet to come up with a blogging call sign yet, but that too shall pass. 

Both Daughter and Grandson are coming home tomorrow (Sunday AKA yesterday when you're reading this). More to follow. 

On the other, less happy yet more critical episode in the juvat Family life nowadays. This is the week that all the final tests will be completed on Mrs J. The required education classes will be completed and treatment will begin. 

We shall see what we shall see. You folks out there in blogspace have been very encouraging and that has helped. 

Thank you! 

Replying to comments may be somewhat delayed. Maybe not, as sitting in waiting rooms without something to distract leads the mind into places I don't want to go. 

We'll see. 


Peace out y'all

Sunday, October 29, 2023

The Long March - No Way Back

The chamberlain was moving from the kitchen to the dining area of the palace. Everything seemed in order, but he had a sense of something being "not quite right."

Uneasy, he moved to one of the floor to ceiling windows which faced towards the city. He looked outside, the dawn was breaking, it looked to be another beautiful spring day. Why did he feel so uneasy?

Turning away from the window he paused to check his pocket watch.

"Still early," he mused.

Snapping the watch shut he noticed that the palace guardsman on duty at the passageway to the living quarters had flinched at the sound of his watch. Odd that.

Walking over to the man, the guardsman seemed to have settled himself. The man's eyes looked into the far distance, not focused on any one thing, but noting everything.

"Guardsman, is there anything I should know about?"

The chamberlain, once he had been a sergeant major in the regulars, had used his command voice. He knew that the guardsman would answer, instinctively, as he had been trained.

"Sir!" the man had come to the position of attention, his rifle at the present. "Rumors of fighting in the city, Sir. In the laborers' quarter. We've been told to be ready for anything. Sir!"

"Stand easy, lad. Anything beyond rumors?"

"Gunfire, Sir, late last night. You could hear it clearly from our barracks."

The chamberlain cleared his throat to cover his sudden feeling of deep unease. "Sustained fire? Rifles? Cannon?"

"Sporadic shots, Sir, definitely rifle fire. No cannon, thank God."

"Yes, indeed. Stay alert, I'm going to go wake the Ruler. Or has he been awakened already?"

"Still abed, Sir, my captain thought it best not to wake him."

"Quite. Carry on, guardsman, stay alert."


The Sergeant was going through the Imperials' bivouac with a squad of troopers. Their orders had been clear, no survivors. Though she understood clearly, and she hated the Imperials as much as the next regular, it still made her sick to her stomach, dispatching the wounded with the bayonet.


She heard the quiet voice behind her, she turned and saw the man pointing. An Imperial sergeant, she believed that officially they were called a "decanus" was watching the patrol with steely eyes.

The man was sitting with his back to a camp desk, clutching his abdomen which was oozing blood. His trousers and the ground around him were dark with blood. She wondered how he had not bled out by now.

"Decanus, it's a hard place we've come to." She decided to speak to the man, maybe gain some understanding of what had just happened. Nothing in her training had prepared her for these events.

The decanus stirred and looked at her, "You're young for a sergeant."

"Aye, perhaps I am. Why have things gone this far?" She was genuinely curious.

"Ah, the moves and countermoves of those above me are unfathomable. I do as I am told. I tell my soldiers to go and they do, I bid them to come, and they do. I try not to ..."

"Are you in much pain, Decanus?"

"It comes and goes, Sergeant. I am not long for this world, but I am shamed at the fact that brother has fired upon brother," he paused, remembering that he was talking to a woman, "and sister upon sister. Perhaps it is best that I am departing this world. Perhaps the next one will be better."

That startled the Sergeant, "You believe?"

The Decanus closed his eyes for a moment as a wave of pain washed over him, "With every fiber of my being ..."

The man closed his eyes, the Sergeant thought that maybe the man's spirit had already fled. But then he spoke again.

"Do an old soldier a favor?"

One of the men with the Sergeant hissed under his breath, "F**king constable, you're no soldier."

As the Sergeant turned to silence the man, the Decanus raised one hand. "A fair point lad. But I once was as you, a soldier in the regulars. I did my time, got out, got married, got a job. This job. Yes, now there is shame in it, but under the old regime, we were respected, we kept the peace."

The Sergeant was torn, she had her orders, but this decanus seemed a decent sort. Then the Decanus spoke again.

"Sergeant, if I might trouble you to have your men lift me up, and place my sword with the point at my breast ..." he paused, if he waited he might be dead soon anyway.

The Sergeant nodded at two of her men. With that belly wound the man might last hours more, but the pain would be agonizing. She was surprised to see that the man who had insulted the Decanus had pulled his messmate back and went forward himself.

Together he and another soldier lifted the Decanus to his knees. As they placed the sword, being careful not to let the men gain control of it, for neither trusted any of the Imperials, the man who had given the insult whispered, "Please forgive my insult old fellow. I didn't know ..."

The Decanus smiled, "'Tis good to die by a soldier's hand."

With that he fell forward, weakly. The two soldiers pressed the Decanus down onto the blade. The man shuddered once, then was dead.

"Let's get this over with," the Sergeant moved on, followed by her squad.

The Ruler sat next to his bed, still in his pajamas and wearing a heavy robe. He seemed barely cognizant of his surroundings. His wife was directing the people in the room, calling for a meeting in the main office on this floor with the hour. Turning to an Imperial, a man of senatorial rank, she spoke.

"Send at least five cohorts into the city. I want them armed and ready for anything. Send cannon as well."

"Cannon, ma'am?"

The Ruler stirred, "Yes, cannon, with cannon the rebels will be crushed in a day. Go, do as my wife says!"

The man hesitated, then left, he knew that arguing at this point would be a waste of time. He was beginning to wonder who was actually running the government.

"Colonel, the Imperials have been dealt with, none survived. We counted the bodies, perhaps one or two may have escaped into the woods. But they won't get far."

"What makes you say that, Major?"

Then the Colonel heard it, the sound of a hunting horn. He shuddered.

"They're out there, aren't they?"

"Yes Sir. Not in strength, not yet, but the woods are closed to us. It's go back to the capital or press on to the frontier garrison."

"Well, the capital is out of the question, unless you take me prisoner and claim that I ordered you to ..."

"That's not going to happen, Sir."

The Colonel gave the Major a grim smile and nodded. He turned to see what the commotion behind him was.


"What is it, Sarn't Major?"

"The manservant, he has escaped, into the woods. Shall we pursue?"

"No, the poor man is quite mad. We can't worry about him now. Pass the word, we march for the frontier garrison, immediately."

"It'll be dark soon, Sir."

"Have the men prepare torches. We must move, if we stay here we are dead."


"I want your battalion in the vanguard, Major. The others hesitated today, you and your troops did not. We must move swiftly."

"At once, Sir!"

The Major left to get the troops ready to march. If he knew the Sergeant, they were probably in marching order already.

The people had created a barricade across the boulevard. Cobblestones, streetlamp poles, wagons, carts, furniture, anything which would slow the Imperials.

"At least five cohorts, Cyrus. A contingent of mounted troops as well. We can slow them, but stop them? They'll lap around us like the incoming tide."

The man called Cyrus, a tradesman from the laborers' quarter nodded.

"We delay here, then we fall back to the next position, then to the next ..."

"There are only the two fallbacks, Cyrus."

"I know Magnus, I know. Perhaps we will have killed enough of them to give them pause, if not ..."

"Then we die on our knees or we fall back to our homes and die on our feet. At any rate, we die. There is no mercy in these people, I fear."

Cyrus nodded, "We fight then."

Magnus clasped his friend's hand, "Together brother, one way or another."


Saturday, October 28, 2023

The Long March - Hinge Point

"Your Highness! Your Highness!"

The Prince's manservant was standing next to the Prince's cot, trying to awaken his master. His voice was getting louder, but he was still, essentially, whispering. He didn't touch the Prince because he knew that to do so was to invite certain death, depending on the Prince's mood when he awoke.

"Sir! Your Highness, there's ..."

The Prince awoke with a start, sitting up abruptly, "Damn it man, what is this sniveling?"

"Highness, your bodyguard is leaving, they ..."


Throwing off the bedclothes, the Prince stood up, shoving the manservant to the floor of the tent. "My boots, you idiot, my boots!"

The Prince was snapping his fingers angrily as the manservant scuttled across the floor to get the Prince's boots. Once he had them he went back to the Prince, kneeling, waiting for the Prince to sit back down on the cot.

"FOOL!" the Prince once again shoved the man to the floor, "I'll do it myself."

As he hurriedly pulled his boots on, he could hear the snorting of horses and the muffled imprecations of men as they hurriedly saddled their mounts.

Tugging his left boot on, then nearly stumbling as he started to walk, the Prince kicked his manservant who was trying to scurry out from underfoot. The man grunted as the Prince's boot slammed into his midsection.

"F**king oaf, move!" the Prince barked at the man as he strode from his tent, drawing his pistol as he did so.

"What is the meaning of this!" he bellowed at the nearest trooper who was trying to mount his horse. The animal was shying away from her rider, made nervous by the tumult around her.

"Damn it man! ANSWER ME!"

The rider successfully gained his seat, then turned his mount towards the road. The Prince, leveling his pistol, stepped in front of the horse. The rider buried his spurs in the animal's flank which caused her to jump forward, knocking the Prince to the ground.

The Major was awake and moving before his brain had really registered the reasons why. Close by was Joshua following on his officer's heels, ready to support him regardless of what they required.

"Joshua, what the ..."

"The mounted bodyguards, they're abandoning the camp."

Rushing towards the commotion, he could see the last of the mounted men heading down the road, back the way they had come. The Prince was standing in the road, without his tunic, firing his pistol at the receding figures.

"Sir, this doesn't look good."

The Major looked towards the bivouac of the Imperials as shots rang out from that direction. A number of men were firing in the direction of the road. No targets were in evidence but the Imperials were blazing away like the poorly trained troops they were. As more men joined in, the firing became heavier.

Stopping in his tracks, the Major turned to Joshua, "Come on, I've got to muster the battalion. You head over to the column commander's bivouac and let him know what's going on. My recommendation is that we stand to before the Imperials get completely out of control."

As the two men separated, the Major ran into the Sergeant, "Top, stand to. The Imperials are apparently mutinying. The mounted bodyguard has fled and the foot soldiers are firing at shadows."

"On it, I'll go to 1st and 2nd Companies ..."

"I'll get to 3rd and 4th. This is not good!"

Asher watched the chaos playing out below him. He didn't awaken Daniel or the others, the quickly mounting rifle fire would soon do that. As far as he could tell, their was something that looked remarkably like a mutiny going on in the regular's camp.

He felt a presence behind him, knew that it had to be Daniel, "Things have taken an interesting turn, Commander."

Daniel grunted as he pulled out his glass and trained on the proceedings below. "Mutiny?"

"Could be, all I can definitely say is that the mounted contingent took to horse and headed back towards the capital. Then the Imperials started firing into the gloom. There was one fellow on the road firing what sounded like a pistol. The muzzle flashes seem to indicate that he was shooting at the fleeing horsemen."

"Damn! I recognize the Prince, even from here. He's out of uniform and it looks like he just got out of bed. I'll bet that was his bodyguard fleeing. I wonder why? What could have spooked those bastards?"

Daniel turned, expecting to see Mary and Benjamin waiting behind him. They were.

"Benjamin, follow Rachel, let Abel know what's going on here. We might be facing fewer enemies than we anticipated in the next few days. Mary, go with him, Asher and I will follow once we've seen the outcome of all this. Tell Abel that we'll meet him at the old grist mill on the lower swamp road."

The two headed off into the darkness while Daniel and Asher settled in to watch the show.

"Too bad we don't have a force here to attack those rascals." Asher commented.

"Heh, why interrupt your enemy while he's making a mistake?"

"The battalion is formed Major."

"Thanks, Top." Turning to face his assembled force, the Major bellowed out, "Battalion will fix bayonets!"


The clatter of hands reaching for scabbards followed that command.


Even in the dim light from the nearby campfires, the flash of cold steel being affixed to rifle muzzles was unmistakable. The Sergeant felt a chill rush up her spine as the hairs on the back of her neck stood up, "Battalion stands ready, Sir!"

"Very well."

The Major turned once more towards the Imperial camp. The firing had subsided, now the men seemed to be arguing, fights were breaking out in the Imperial's camp. The Major realized that he was going to have to take action now. As he turned back to his battalion, the column commander rode up.



"Your battalion will advance and quell the disturbance over there." The column commander was missing his kepi but his sword was drawn and he was using it to point at the Imperial's camp. "The rest of the column will support your movements. Deadly force is authorized."


"If the bastards won't fall in and cease this idiocy, kill them. Kill them all!"

The column commander then abruptly rode off to where the Major could see the other elements of the column forming up.

"Battalion will advance!"

The company commanders all commanded at the same time, "CHARGE BAYONETS!"

"HURRAH!" The battalion bellowed as one.


The companies executed the movements required to put the battalion into three deep line, moving forward as they did so. Some of the troopers had grim looks of anticipation on their faces, very few of them had any love for the Imperials.

"Damn it, man! Get your people under control!" The Prince was screaming at one of the Fourth Cohort's centurions. He had no idea where his First Spear was.

The centurion looked at the Prince, not recognizing him at first, "Who the f ..."

Before he said another word, it dawned on him who he was speaking to. "Sir!" Then he dashed into the darkness, hoping to get away with his own bodyguard.

The lone rider who had returned to camp had been in a panic. He had reported that hundreds of rebels had attacked and overwhelmed the baggage train. He claimed that he and his companions had ridden into an ambush and that only he had narrowly escaped. Which was true, to a certain point.

But the centurion had no idea of the truth, all he could think of was to make his own escape and get back to the capital. If he could take his entire Century, then he would, but that was looking less and less likely as the chaos in the Imperial camp grew into a riot.


The command, "COMPANY!" repeated down the line ...


The Major was looking down a slight embankment at the Imperial camp, men were rummaging through the belongings of others, fighting each other, there were already bodies on the ground, dead bodies.

Some of the men in the camp looked up to see the battalion arrayed in line, bayonets fixed. They began shouting insults, one man raised a rifle and fired at the regulars. At that point, the Major made his decision.


Again the command rippled down the line ...


The companies were well-drilled and did not fire all at once. Rather, it was a rolling volley, each platoon firing together, one after the other, until the 4th Company had fired. Firing recommenced with the 1st Platoon of the 1st Company, this would continue until the battalion was out of ammunition or the officers called a halt.

The Major let the volleys go down the line twice, as the Fourth Comapnay completed its fire, he bellowed out, "CEASE FIRE!"

The Imperial's camp looked like an abattoir, blood, body parts, and ruined equipment everywhere. Amidst the bodies and the debris of the camp, wounded men could be seen, struggling as they tried to extricate themselves from the mess.

"1st Company Captain!"


"Take a platoon in and finish this."


The Prince was beside himself with anger, "What the Hell have you done, Colonel?"

"The Imperials were out of control, in the field, in the midst of an enemy country, we can't spare the time to treat these types of men with anything approaching civility. They were ordered to cease, they did not. Now, they have ceased." The Colonel answered quite calmly, knowing that his career and probably his life, were now over.

"You will answer for this! With your head!"

The Prince reached for his holstered weapon, drawing it. The Colonel made no move to stop him, he understood that the Prince was well within his rights, as the government had decided, to kill anyone who opposed him.

"Any last words, Colonel?" the Prince said, with a smirk.

A shot rang out, the Colonel started, then realized that he was untouched. He looked and saw that the Prince, his arm extended, his finger on the trigger of his pistol, had a puzzled look on his face. Then the Prince coughed and bright red blood gushed from his mouth, spilling down over the front of his white shirt.

Behind the Prince, who collapsed to the ground making odd, gurgling noises, a struggle was taking place as two men were attempting to restrain the Prince's manservant. The man had let himself be disarmed as he stared at the body of the dead Prince, oddly enough, tears were streaming down the man's face.

The Colonel took a deep breath, now none of them could ever go home.

Friday, October 27, 2023

'Tis Done!

Yup, glad that's over with ...

Not saying the post-op room was like this, but I did order cranberry juice when I came out of the fog.

Language alert ...¹

For those who want to know such things, I'm good.

That's all I've got for now. Be back Saturday.


¹ Yup, one of my favorite movies. Probably watched it ten times. No, it's not because it's set in Boston. Okay, maybe a little ...

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Really? Again?

Actual photograph from my last colonoscopy.
(Why is Tom Cruise in there???)
Yup, again. Did it back in February (see below), gotta do it again today.

I'm going for three packs of Lorna Doones this time ...

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

SAN DIEGO (April 5, 2011) Hospitalman Urian D. Thompson, left, Lt. Cmdr. Eric A. Lavery and Registered Nurse Steven Cherry review the monitor while Lavery uses a colonoscope on a patient during a colonoscopy at Naval Medical Center San Diego. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd
Class Chad A. Bascom/Released)

Hopefully I'll be back here with another installment of the current fictional series on Friday. (Guess I'm gonna need a title for that at some point.)

Hopefully ...

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

The Long March - Plans and Schemes

The village was in ruins but most of the fires had been extinguished, the Prince had been indignant at first. Then the column commander had pointed out that night was coming on and would the Prince like to sleep out in the open or in one of the still standing, semi-intact huts.

"I shall sleep in my tent tonight."

"Your Majesty, your baggage has yet to join the column." Neither man knew at the time that the Prince's baggage train had been waylaid by the militia.

"Ah, I see, very well, have the men extinguish the fires as best they can. I shall put my Imperials out as a protective screen."

The colonel ignored the Prince as he had some companies go to work quelling the flames in those dwellings that were yet salvageable while a number of others had already been thrown out in a defensive perimeter long before the Prince had thought of that.

"I shall expect your men to assist in collecting our dead."

The column commander pretended not to have heard the Prince, who repeated his demand. Turning his horse, the column commander drew very near to the Prince and leaned in ...

"We are a long way from the capital, Your Majesty. I suggest your people collect their own dead. My troops have to secure the camp and set up a proper bivouac. I suggest your Imperials stay out of their way. Collect your dead, strip them of anything useful, and I would recommend burying them as quick as you can. They will be most ripe, come morning."

"I'm not sure I like your tone, commander."

The column commander nodded, then rode off. He had thought to speak his mind, then thought better of it, even among his staff there were some who were supporters of the Ruler and his family. Discretion, he thought to himself, was often the better part of valor.

Daniel snapped his glass closed then turned to his companions. "It looks like the regulars intend to spend the night here. I want to set up a surprise for them, any suggestions?"

Rachel spoke, "If they continue down the road towards the river, there are one or two spots where we might be able to ambush them but ..."

Benjamin finished her thought, "There are too many of them for the force we have readily to hand. It will take three or four days to gather our strength in order to oppose such a force. They would be well over the river, if they intend to cross, by then. What if ..."

Mary joined in, "Small attacks from the forest along the way, draw them into the woods again. Our people are very adept at moving through the trees, I doubt that they are. Bleed them as they march, if they use their entire force to pursue into the woods, we won't need many people to cut them up. We needn't make the same mistake Adam did last year by attacking them in the open."

Daniel nodded, "I understand what you're saying, Mary. That was a costly mistake but the regulars had gotten far too close to the elders and the children. Adam felt compelled to attack to protect his non-combatants. We need not confront them directly, I like the idea of drawing small bodies into the forest, it's the way they like to operate. They'll throw out flankers to either side of the road, we'll draw them in and cut them up."

Daniel turned to Rachel, "Get back to the homestead, have Abel send out the word, all able bodied fighters to rendezvous ...," he had to think for a moment, "... the old Hempstead farm, it's central to where our people are and there are a number of useful paths to bring them into action at many points."

"Draw them into the swamp." Asher said it quietly, but everyone heard him. It gave all a chill to think of that dismal area. Low lying and marshy, it would present great difficulties to formed bodies of troops. While the regulars could fight in open order, in the swamp they would lose cohesion, giving the militia an advantage.

Rachel looked at Daniel, who said, "The swamp it is. We'll stay and observe for now, report back here when you're done. If needs be, I'll send a messenger if we have to move elsewhere."

"There's tea, Sir. If you want it." Joshua had put up a lean-to next to a burned out house which must have been a substantial home before they had arrived. Now the interior was a mix of collapsed walls, ceilings, and ruined furniture, some of it still smoldering.

The Major looked up, "I would like that. Don't you ever rest, Joshua?"

Grinning, his lack of rest was a running joke between them, Joshua said, "Whenever you're not looking."


"Cheeky bastard.

"I try, Sir."

At that moment the Sergeant poked her head under the lean-to, "Don't suppose you've an extra cup, Joshua?"

Joshua nodded, "That I do, Top, that I do," he then left so that the commander and his ranking noncom could speak in private.

"Problems, Top?"

"As you might imagine, the troops are rather disgusted by today's little display of savagery. No outright threats against the Imperials, but ..."

"Yes, if I was an Imperial, I wouldn't wander too far from my own bivouac tonight."

"Nor any night, Sir. The troops have long memories."

"Not an auspicious start to this 'punitive' campaign." The Major's tone left no doubt as to how he felt about the punitive aspects of this campaign.

"Think we could still talk our way out of this, Sir?"

After finishing his tea, the Major shook his head, "No, I don't. A lot of good people are going to die, one did today."

"Uh Sir, twenty-seven Imperials died today, don't you think ..."

"I'll deny it if you repeat this, but not one single man of those bastards can be called 'good.' Did you see any of them hang back after that hut went up? No, the Prince merely told them to do what they had already planned on doing. Did I think that they would hang that poor bastard? No, I didn't, that even surprised me, and I've seen these bastards in action in the capital. Very brave against those who can't fight back, they are. Very brave indeed."

The two heard Joshua clear his throat nearby and stopped talking.

"You can come in, Joshua."

Joshua came in and handed a cup of hot teat to the Sergeant.

"Thank you. Can I bring the cup back later? I need to walk the posts."

"Sure thing, Top. We know where you live ..." Joshua grinned at the Sergeant, he was very fond of her.

"She's like a daughter to me, Sir." Joshua said as the Sergeant disappeared into the darkness.

"What are you, ten years older than her?" The Major said, sarcastically.

"But those were a hard ten years, Sir, count as twenty in some people's minds, they would."

The Major shook his head, "Go, sleep, that's an order."

Joshua threw a mock salute at his commanding officer, then vanished.

The three men had ridden back down the road, in the direction of the Prince's baggage train. The men were part of the Prince's mounted body guard, men of long service in the regulars hired by the Ruler to watch over his numerous family.

It was getting darker and the wind had shifted into the riders' faces. As they proceeded down the road, a column of smoke could be seen over the trees in the near distance. All three men smelled it at the same time, fire, the smell of burning, painted wood.

As they rounded a bend in the road, there was the baggage train, burning furiously in the road. The men who had been driving the wagons and the baggage guards could be seen. Some lying in the road, some between the wagons. Some couldn't be seen but their presence was noticeable by the smell of burning flesh, they were in the wagons.

The leader of the trio held up one hand, "Easy lads, the bastards might still be about."

He nudged his horse forward, the animal was spooked by the smells wafting into her nostrils. The leader noticed one man in the road, he seemed to have something sticking out of his back. In that instant he knew they were lost, the whirr of an arrow announced itself just before thwacking into the leader's chest.

As he toppled from his mount, the other two men spurred their horses in a bid to escape the ambush.

One of them made it.

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

The Long March - The Imperials

The small town looked deserted. Though in this area the villages all looked deserted lately, especially when the regulars were on the march. There were rumors of reprisals against the locals being carried out, especially near the provincial capital.

The Major shook his head, "Best not to think on such things."


He turned to look at his batman, who had followed him into the field when he didn't really have to. "Just thinking about all the rumors we've been hearing about reprisals."

"A nasty business this is, Sir. Makes me sick to hear of it."

"Why is that, Joshua?"

"Well Sir, the townsfolk and the farmers, they don't really give a damn about who runs things in the capital, as long as they get left alone. But now it seems, begging your pardon Sir, that the government is trying to shove things down their throats.


"Well Sir, taxing folks in the country because people in the city can't find proper housing, or jobs, seems a bit harsh. In my day, we lived in a very small house, it's all my Da' could afford. Now folks want a big place without really working up to it, do you know what I mean?"

"Not really, Joshua, I've been in the army since I was a wee lad. Father was a regular, so was I, from a very early age, an enfant de troupe, really. My Mother died when I was very young, so I spent a lot of time in the barracks. So as to owning my own place, it's a dream a lot of old noncoms have."

"Did your Da' ever ..."

"No, he was killed in action when I was 12."

"Ah. So do you have that dream, Sir? Ownin' yer own place?"

"With the way things are right now? I doubt it lad, I really do."

For the moment, his battalion had to stand in the trace of a muddy stream, waiting for the Imperials to search the village. The Fourth's commander, the Ruler's youngest son, had insisted on a full-blown assault, "for practice" he had said.

For whatever reason, but probably not wishing to upset any apple carts in the capital, the column commander had assented. After all, the village was empty, what could possibly go wrong?

"Fix bayonets!"

"Beg pardon, Your Highness, but is that really necessary? The village seems deserted."

"Yes Colonel, 'seems' being the operative word. What if the bastards are just waiting for us to advance?"

The colonel who actually commanded the Fourth Cohort, now under the Prince's command for the moment, nodded. "Quite right, Your Highness, quite right."

The Prince stood up in his stirrups, "Sound the advance!"

Turning to the Cohort First Spear, the Prince commanded, "Have the band play The Imperium Advances."

That old soldier nodded, then turned his mount to ride over to the band, standing not three rods away. Shortly thereafter, the band began to play the Prince's favorite march.

As the band played, the Imperials stepped off, two Centuries in line formation, the other four arrayed in columns behind those two in line. The drums thumped and the horns brayed their martial sound as the nearly five hundred soldiers advanced upon a seemingly empty village.

"Looks like the cowards have fled," the Prince said, turning to his entourage with a grin.

At that moment a large explosion stunned the onlookers. Where the right hand Century had been was now a scene of horror.

Just as the far right flank of the rightmost Century had passed a small outbuilding, the building had exploded, sending debris sky high. More ominously, the explosion had driven a number of steel nails and small rocks horizontally out to a radius which encompassed most of the nearby Century. Creating instant havoc.

Half of the Imperials were down on the ground, unmoving piles of bloody rags. Many of those who yet lived, shielded, for the most part, from the debris by the bodies of their comrades, were staggering about in varying degrees of shock and with various injuries.

"Your Highness?"

The Prince sat unmoving on his horse, his mouth agape. The band had stuttered to a stop, other than the echoes of the explosion echoing up and down the valley and the cires of the wounded, silence reigned.

Shaking himself, the Prince turned to the Colonel, "Burn the village, slaughter anyone remaining."

"Sir ..."

"Now, Colonel."

The Imperials stormed into the village, firing their weapons into the buildings, setting buildings on fire as they went. They found no one in the village itself, but a merchant passing by on the nearby road had stopped to see what was happening. The Imperials accosted him, then dragged him to a nearby tree and hanged him.

"Your Highness, the men are out of control," the Colonel admonished his superior.

"I want them angry, Colonel."

The Colonel wanted to say more, but held back. He liked his job.

"Dear God, Sir, they murdered that man for no reason, other than him stopping to watch." Joshua was watching the scene playing out before them with a look of horror on his face.

"I know ..."

"No wonder they hate us, Sir. Right now, I hate them." Joshua said as he waved his hand in the general direction of the rampaging Imperials.

"I understand, Joshua. This is barbarism."

From further up the hill, a small party of militia watched as their homes were destroyed. Not a word was exchanged among the three men and two women. Up until the merchant was dragged to a tree and hanged.

"Why would they hang Gabriel? He never harmed a body in his whole life," one of the women said in horror.

The leader of the militia turned to the speaker, "One cannot know what goes through the mind of a brute, Rachel. But know this, he will be avenged"

The leader, a humble man named Daniel noticed the party on horseback just outside the village. He brought his glass to bear on them. He saw the Prince.

"I have an idea, an idea which will get the capital's attention, an idea which shall rally support for the militia," he told the others.

"The Prince?" one of the men asked.

"Why yes, the Prince himself will pay for this."

Monday, October 23, 2023

Taking a timeout!

Ok, Campers, probably be a short one this time.  No critical reason, just we're in College Station with the whole clan.  Little J has returned to the US for a 5 day visit then heads to Moscow on the Potomac (I know, Beans, it was Sodom and Gomorrah last week.  There's enough evil, greed and incompetence in that area to fit all three).  Pick up at the airport was relatively painless for LJW and Miss B, rendezvous at Buckees in Bastrop went off without a hitch.  Arrival at College Station was on time.

Let the festivities begin.  First in importance, MBD is quite pregnant, expected due date is late this week.  She looks good and feels good (well, as good as can be expected).  Unfortunately, for reasons to be explained a little later, it's unlikely we'll be present for Grandson #1's grand entrance.  Next was the introduction of MG and Miss B.  

MG will turn two this week.  She is an absolute hoot!  She's begun talking an understandable version of English, although the word "no" seems to be confusing her.  It can mean either yes or no and it's up to you to figure out which.  But, the next morning when she got up and walked into the breakfast room where Miss B was being fed, she quite clearly said "Hi, Miss B".

MG climbing up on her Pixlar ladder to get a good look at her favorite cartoon

Miss B is 15 months old and coming along nicely.  Sitting up on her own is almost there, standing with support is good, not quite ready for stand alone though.  Making progress on making sounds, but she's very upbeat and smiles a lot.  She's come a long way from her start.

Thank you Lord!

May not seem like a lot to y'all, but it was pretty exciting for this crowd.

Little J seems to be handling the 13 hour time transition quite well.  He only took a 4 hour nap yesterday PM.  In the living room with 3 other adults, 5 dogs and 2 active kids watching TV and doing their level best to keep him up.  Were it an Olympic event, that nap would have been Gold Medal worthy.

Little J trying mightily to stay awake while holding his daughter 

Had a busy week last week, with multiple doctors' appointments and a procedure to put Mrs J's port in.  Chemo Education will begin on Monday after we get back. Radiation will be the first treatment and will happen the first week in in November.  That's a little out of order, I'm told, but they want to get treatment started.  Chemo will follow the second week in November.  I'm truly praying that the rapidity of the scheduling is due to luck and good doctors rather than the delay caused by a WHOGAS Nurse Practitioner not doing their job back in August.  

We'll see.

On the other PITA in my life, the meeting with the Judge to assign me as the administrator of my sister's estate took all of 5 minutes.  I had to swear an oath, very similar to the oath of commissioning, which I thought interesting.  Went home after that and made several phone calls to the various parties involved.  Like everything legal, it will apparently take 3-5 weeks before I'll receive any documents but I'm now officially the administrator of my sister's estate.  I can actually ask questions and make decisions.  So...I've got that going for me!  A PITA extension. Yay!

But, making progress.  Got to do a mental translation of what the legal nomenclature is vs terms I understand, but that delay time should help a bit.

So given all the "things" that have happened in the past 4 months, Mrs J and I decided to take a short vacation and spend time focusing on happier things, like our kids and grandkids.  Seems to be working so far.

Yes, Beans, there are three grandkids in that picture.

Peace out, y'all!