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A tale of two worlds

A tale of two worlds

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The Battle of the Sands. Part One

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The Battle of the Sands.

Part One.

 

Captain Grey of the Heavies shifted his weight in the saddle to ease his old wound as his Rhinox made use of its time to chew a redweed bush beneath him.  He could hear the beasts copious teeth making short work of a plant with all the softness of barbed wire and wondered, not for the first time, what the inside of his stomach must look like.  He slowly turned the field telescope around the low hills, but there was still too much dust to see clearly. This filthy wind had kicked up so much dust in the past few days that the steam conveyances were seizing up.  He could hear their tortured joints behind him as they struggled to maintain their pace.  Only the Rhinox seemed not to care much, whatever the weather threw at them

Their mission had begun three weeks before.  Using hit and run tactics it was hoped to break up the Prussian advance while the different columns had yet to converge in their attack on New Brighton.  It was clear that the British Imperial force was much too small to hold but a small section of line around the bastion of the city, making it far too vulnerable to short range nef bombing and siege artillery.  If the supply lines could be cut or severely hampered then at least it might buy some time for reinforcements to arrive from Britain and her allies the Russian and Confederate States.

Several flying columns had been sent out, including Greys.  And so far their mission had been very successful.  Four Prussian supply columns had been destroyed including a large artillery unit, and a further large unit had been forced to make a retreat.  But their position was becoming increasingly tenuous and the hunter was becoming the hunted.  They had been spotted yesterday by a Prussian nef patrol and had already evaded one force sent to find them, though mainly by entering the sandstorm which they were just emerging from.  Their only hope now was to get back to their lines as swiftly as possible.

Sergeant Norris emerged from around the crags in front of Captain Grey and pulled his Rhinox to a panting halt.

“Waterhole sir..about a kilometre away. It looks like the one the Drune marked out for us sir…has the cleft rocks just like they described”

“Very well sergeant. Signal the column to advance.  I daresay we could use the water…even these fellows” he said, looking down as yet another redbush disappeared into the gaping maw of his riding beast.  His mount began a guttural growl as his brain registered the presence of the other Rhinox, fearing possibly the theft of his redbush.  Grey gave him a whack with his iron poker.  Best not let them start fighting.  They were placid beasts, on the whole, and as long distance mounts through this land they could not be beaten.  But heaven and earth would not stop a Rhinox that had decided to charge at something. Grey had once seen one of his troopers frantically clinging on as his mount had hit and turned over an armoured car belonging to the Duke of Cambridge’s light infantry.  No-one had told the poor fellows about the colour green….

The pale sun was starting to grow weaker in the sky as the British column limped into the oasis.  The dust was settling now, enabling the men to take their dust masks off and wipe them.  Lieutenant Hughes of the armoured car brigade was just about able to see the long row of hills to his north for the first time in two days.  He raised his periscope and turned his turret while opening the hatch to let at least a little fresh air into the cauldron that was the HMMS Pib.  His hand froze.  There, not two hundred meters away was another column.  Long rows of soldiers, cavalry and tanks.  The Prussians!

For a full twenty seconds the two columns, travelling in different directions, looked on at each other before recognition set in.  Then there was a brief moment of almost silence when all that could be heard was the thumping regularity of steam boilers and wheezing pistons.

 

Then, all hell broke loose.

The Battle of the Sands.  Part One

Well a mighty pickle the British had got themselves into, moving alongside a Prussian column in a sandstorm and not seeing their adversaries until you could chuck a haggis in their nearest funnel.

The British forces on the nearest table edge are led by the indomitable HMMS Pib (a rather nice Ironclad armoured car), followed by the lumbering and temperamental Rhinox patrol led by Captain Grey.  Following them the 58th Poobah Lancers, the rather rusty four legged HMMS Hephaestus, a platoon of the Berkshires, the bipedal HMMS Orca with its rather nasty flamethrower, a platoon of highlanders and lastly Pib’s cousin HMMS Pob.

On the Prussian side a party of his heli-troops are scouting ahead, followed by an armoured car, the monstrous spider tank with twin turrets, a large group of Lancers, forty infantry, another armoured car and a medium tank.

In the first turn most of our steam armour managed to break down, although some did manage to about face.  This left it up to the infantry and cavalry to start the proceedings. The Berkshires raced up onto the dunes running parallel to their adversaries so they might get a clear view.

 

They were in time to see the glorious, colourful and ultimately FINAL charge of the Poobah Lancers as the massed ranks of forty infantry including the elite Marztruppen opened fire. Wiped out to a man!

 

The Battle of the Sands.  Part One

Meanwhile, Captain Grey had only just managed to control his beasts and was following in the footsteps of the doomed lancers, whose sacrifice had at least managed to get his unit into charge range next turn.

The Battle of the Sands.  Part One

If only the beasts would be goaded by the green rag!

Meanwhile the Prussian lancers, oblivious to the carnage inflicted on their opposite numbers, rushed through a gap in the oasis floatwood trees to charge the unit of highlanders who had taken up firing positions along a dried creek bed , covered by the Pob.

Oh dear!  A short distance roll meant that they didn’t quite make it.  And the doughty Scots got off a volley, crashing into horses, pickelhaubes and floatwood trees.  Horsemen and their mounts tumbled into the creek.  The unit however was far from obliterated and the three officers had all managed to remain in the saddle leading their men.

Meanwhile the British had finally managed to start up the Hephaestus but their first shot was a miserable one as Commander Huntleigh-Burns could attest to as he viewed it from the top deck.

The Battle of the Sands.  Part One

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