[Mock-Fiction] IV - Alea Iacta Est {Rogue's Story}

Note: Please read the Formal Notice movella. It should be on the list on the right hand side.

Yup. Just the one perspective.

Cover by Secrets Unfold

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23. 20 – War

Rogue growled beneath her breath and rose to her feet. She clenched her fists as she turned to the sounds of yelps and resistance.

Rogue saw Richard, pulling and fighting his way through a group of mercenaries that were trying to restrain him.

“Get back, you bloody arse-hole!” she could hear Noel say, “Get back! You ain’t authorized to be here!”

Rogue saw Richard scowl at him and wordlessly wrap an arm around his neck from behind.

 

Furious, Rogue stomped her way to Richard and slapped him in the face with back of her hand. He momentarily lost his balance, releasing Noel from a choker-hold.

“Nobody ducks with my mercenaries and gets away with it!” she said, fuming.

Richard rubbed the stinging side of his face, “Why am I not preceding over this? Why are they invited, and I am not?”

“I am not going to answer that question,” said Rogue, “Get out of here!”

“Not going to answer? Why? Because you have no plausible answer? Because your ego gets in the way, if I’m involved? Can’t have a man stand above you? Is that it?”

Noel growled at him, but Rogue raised a hand, “You are an Assassin, not a military leader on any platform. You resisted sending those of military leadership in your ‘authority’ over here. You attacked my envoy. You lashed out at a messenger. And now you have the audacity to duck with my mercenaries?  What am I to think? Why should I bring you here? I have always been suspicious. I have always had issues with trust. But this – you’re giving me all the reasons there are to distrust you!” she shook her fist at him, resisting the urge to give him an obscene hand-gesture, “You are not welcome here.”
 

Richard’s face blanched a little, but he said, “These are not your reasons. You’re making excuses. This cut is a lot deeper, isn’t it?”

“I’m not here to shame you. And I don’t intend to,” she stabbed a finger at him, “Just keep your filthy hands off of my boys! And keep your ducking snout out of this! You’re gettin’ off easy, y’mangy arse. ”HHH

“It’s funny that you should mock me. When you seem to show no true reasoning for your distrust of me.”

“What the bollocks are ducking about?” Rogue could hear the mercenaries drawing a sharp breath behind her. There were several new words they were adding to their vocabularies, she was sure, “Funny? You think this is all a bloomin’ laugh, Dick? I’m not mockin’ you, I’m showin’ you a bloody mirror!”
“Look at your talk. Look at your language. What did I do that was so wrong of me to do?”

“Shut your face, Richard. For your own duckin’ sake, shut it.”
“Ah, the soldier of mercy all over again.”
Rogue turned her back to him, “Soldier of mercy, pah! There ain’t no mercy here. Just a person trying to keep the morale of her people high. Just trying to do what’s right. If it was up to me, I’d be wringin’ your pencil-neck like a turkey’s and feeding your liver to the dogs before the sun went down. But it ain’t up to me. Not up to what my mind’s telling me. I have a war to lead. I have enough problems. You’re one of the smaller ones at the moment, and I haven’t the mind to give you a proper bollocking just yet.”

“And the woman speaks like she’s a man.”

“Go duck yourself, Richard,” Rogue walked away, nodding to the stricken, aghast mercenaries to resume their places, “And remember that God ain’t the only one who’s disgusted by what you’ve done. The heavens aren’t the only things that are spittin’ for shame at you. If you had any decency left, you’d be praying for mercy from a Higher Power. Not from me.”

 

Rogue re-entered the tent, the anger on her face still remarkably noticeable even as her cowl shadowed her face.

“Have you been fighting?” said Shire.

“I’m a soldier,” said Rogue monotonously, “Fighting’s my job.”

“Not wi’ yer superiors, Rogue,” said Boudicca.

“Back to business,” said Rogue. She took out the cellphones and the headsets, “I’ll keep two of each, but I need a courier to send these to Barto.”

“I’ll get one of my elves to do so. They’re quick on foot,” said Shire as she walked out.

“I don’t see where this is going,” said Malik.

“I do,” said Leonardo, with a smile on his face.

Rogue nodded at him, “Trust the wit of our allies. Feed the ego of our enemies,” the selected elf courier walked in, Shire following behind him. Rogue handed him a headset and a cellphone, “Take these to Bartolomeo. Tell him I’ve updated some plans and that these will be our link on the ground. Tell him, also, not to reply to any messages that I send him.”

The elf nodded and went about his task.

“All of these phones are being tapped,” said Rogue, “But let’s use that to our advantage, shall we?”

 

On one phone she typed the message: Hold straight shieldwall opposite. Do not encircle enemy. Too many.

On the other she typed: Prepare for enclosure. I shall send you the signal soon.

And then tapped both send buttons simultaneously.

She wore both headsets. She spoke into one saying, “Pockets of assassins and berserkers will be set onto the field. Do not fret at this.”
Into the other she said, “The numbers are too many for out-of-shieldwall assault. Keep the men holding the line.”
And then sent both voice-messages.

 

An incoming message rang on the phone.

She hit the answer button and said, “I thought the courier told you not to reply.”
“I know,” rang Bartolomeo’s voice, “But I just wanted to congratu-reprimand you on how much of an idiot-genius you are.”
“I’ll take that as a offensive-compliment,” Rogue laughed, “So this is going to be insufferably-fun.”
“Should get back to morale-boosting, rest-an’-relaxation.”
“Alright, hang up.”

The call dropped and Rogue looked up at the others, “There’s only one thing left to do.”

“I hope you prepared a speech,” said Altair.

“Prepare a speech? I’ve had other things to prepare, Jaddee,” she said.

“Excuses? From you?”

“I’ll just have to go with the flow,” she walked out of the tent and called back, “The rest of you should get to arms. Prepare for what’s to come.”
 

She stood in the middle of the field. Pausing for a moment, but then calling, “A-ten-tion!”

The mercenaries gathered and stood in their lines, stomping and halting all sound.

Rogue looked at them, “Ah, that’s what I like to see,” she said and then called in as dramatic a tone as she could manage, “For years, this has been your home. Your living space. Your sanctuary, if you will. It has served you well. All in favour, shout Aye!”
“Aye!”

“Aye,” she repeated, “This mass of sand and stone doesn’t look like much. But it’s your home. You knew this day would come, lads. This land has done you well. It’s made those cowering, snivelling little prissies you were into the men you’ve become. It’s toughened you. It’s broadened your shoulders, expanded your chests, ripped your muscles,” she paused, “Hardened you some, in some places I’m sure,” she heard a few of them laugh. She glared at them, “Drop and gimme fifty! Now! This is an army, not a circus!”

They didn’t dare pause. They all got down and pressed up fifty. They stood up once more and were silent.

“Ah, you see? No hesitations, no faltering, certainly no fleeing or arguing. But now the day’s come. You knew it was coming. Will you serve this land, as it has served you?”

“Aye!”
“Aye. And remember this lads, some of you will face certain death to today – but remember, all death is certain. And those who die today, will be making the better of it. You die heroes, and those of us who live – we’ll be the ones telling your tale. Eulogising you. For all eternity to come,” she paused, “Make the line, boys. And remember,” she pointed towards the enemy camp, “whatever comes out of that fithole, lads, you hold the line. It could mean the life and death of every man, woman and child in Masyaf.”

 

They formed the line. Similar, and perhaps pre-prepared, speeches rang across the desert, before the others joined them. Rogue took her place on the front-line next to Darim.

“Shields!” she called.

The soldiers brought up the shields in front of them, their swords, muskets and spears poking out of the slight crevices.

“March! Drummers, keep the pace!” the beating of drums filled the air, and the human wall marched forward, everyone grasping the rhythmic stomping.

Rogue muttered orders through her headsets, “March forward,” she paused and spoke into the other, “Hold offence.”
She heard Bartolomeo shout, and the sound of marching increased.

“The enemy aren’t advancing,” murmured Darim.

“They’re coming,” replied Rogue.

A enemy rider came into view.

“It’s just one man.”

“No,” said Rogue, she paused, “They’re here.”

The full WD horde came into view. Some were dressed in grotesque livery – the stripped meat of animals covering them like hauberks – while others were more formally dressed, like the fat general that Leonidas had kicked into the trench. One of the leaders – Simon of Cow’ell, it seemed – gave a shout and the horde advanced: yelling war cries and hefting their weapons high above them.

“Halt! Archers! Muskets!” cried Rogue. The shields came up and the archers moved in front, all sitting with one knee up, their bows strung, “Fire!”
The quick whistle of their arrows silenced shortly. The sky was filled with the black darts. Sharp cracks fired as triggers were pulled. The cries of pain rang across the field as men went down, fresh blood splattering onto the soft sands.

“Archers, fall back!” Rogue took the lead, “Shields! March!”

The archers ran back behind while the infantry brought the shields up again  and marched.

Rogue could hear Bartolomeo issue similar orders, and the enemy were caught from behind by a volley of arrows and bullets.

“Ends turn in!” Rogue yelled, tapping her headsets, “Ends turn in!”

 

There was chaos as the defenders of Masyaf began to encircle the enemy. They fought their way, hiding behind their shields when a blow was suspected, but lashing out through the gaps as soon as the chance was provided. A man beside Rogue was cut down. She ended his killer soon enough with quick stab of her sword through his jugular.

“Fill the gaps!” she cried, “Hold the line, lads! Hold the line!”
The clash of sword and shield filled her ears. She was drenched in some poor souls’ blood already, but there was more to come.

The soldiers – well-dressed or not – were highly under-trained, even if their numbers may have tipped the favour of battle.

“Assassins! Berserkers!” she shouted, “Launch attack! Four to a party! Four to a party!” she looked at Darim beside her, “Come on,” she said, pulling him out of the line and diving in to the thick of battle, two berserkers following in their wake, “Hold the line, lads!” she yelled back.

 

“Are you mad?” said Darim, as the four stood back to back, “If you’re cut down, Rogue, this whole war is over.”

Rogue slashed her sword and brought down two wild WD soldiers hefting axes at her, “Then I’m going to have to stay alive.”

“Get back in the line, damn you!”
She faced him for only one second, “Make me.”

Darim bared his teeth and lashed out at assailants, “What?”

“I don’t mean to play the hero, Darim,” she said, baring her teeth as she stabbed a dagger into a soldier’s throat. He writhed as she applied pressure and set him on the ground, the blood spurting out of the fatal wound and curses gurgling in his mouth, “There’s no such a thing. But how the hell am I suppose to tell the boys to be brave and heroic, if I don’t play the part. The frontline is not the place of a general. The thick of things, however, is.”

“You will die here, Rogue.”

She raised up her arm, the Hidden Blade launching and deflecting a spear aimed at Darim, “There’s lot more to dying than mere assumptions, Darim,” she could here gunfire, “Muskets!” she yelled, “Archers! Hold your fire! Hold your fire!”

A soldier was bringing the edge of his shield down on her. She jumped and crashed onto it, catching the man off balance and then ripping the shield out of his grasp. He seemed to be more alert than his comrades, however, and got to his feet quickly and slashed his sword at her. Rogue smashed his own shield into his face – she could see the blood spraying out of his mouth – and kicked him back, before taking her place with her group once more. Adrenaline was coursing through every single vein in her body.

 

“Rogue…”

“Oh, shut up, Darim!” She hefted the shield to parry a blow and cut another man down.

Darim paused, “Their numbers are withering. Something’s not right about this.”

“I feel it too… what’s going on, do you think?”
“You know how this is the future and everything…”

“Yes…”

Darim gulped as a certain rumble shook the ground, “Doesn’t the future hold better weapons?”

Rogue paled. How could I have missed that? she thought. “But they wouldn’t… not with all their men in the firing line…” Would they?

 

A ball of fire shot through the field. There were roars and cries of surprise and derision.

Rogue looked up.

 

Five tanks appeared on the horizon.

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