The God Wars

Chapter Seventeen:

Aftermath

By Dwayne MacInnes

Ares: The God of War

Ares looked around him; his forces were taking the trenches. It would only be a matter of time before his army took the trenches and then stormed the city. Sure, it was still ten miles south, but his men tasted victory and they would sack it this very night.

Ares at twenty feet tall looked over the devastated landscape. Most of the dead in the field were his own men, though he was able to even the score a little bit. The god of war started to order his men to hasten so that they could take the city. When he heard a thunderous boom followed by another. He then felt a terrible pain in his left hand. It was a sensation he had never experienced before. The war god looked down to see the bloody stump where his hand used to be.

Ares spun around to find the source of the wound. There on the ground charged 15 iron chariots. They had a long pipe that exploded and fired some projectile. In addition, they were charging after him. Occasionally one would stop and fire its pipe. Fortunately, they were still far off and missing, the wound to his hand was only a lucky shot.

Ares would normally welcome such a challenge. However, he had just lost a hand and his lifeblood was freely flowing from of his stump. The god of war turned and started to retreat across the battlefield.

Ares' army watched in horror as their god abandoned them. The reserve forces Crist ordered were now flooding the trenches. The black-armored army decided to follow their leader and started to climb out of the trenches.

As the army retreated across no-man's-land, the artillery and mortar teams opened up again. The men who had fought their way through the storm of steel now had to endure it again. The men threw their weapons and shields to the ground and fled as fast as they could.

The few chariots and cavalry, who were remaining, joined in the rout. However, many a horse broke a leg or a chariot lost a wheel trying to fly across the broken landscape. The men would have to continue on foot. Many fell never to rise again as a burst of a steel shell exploded over their heads.

Some of the peasant militia started to chase after the fleeing foes. Fortunately, their leaders reined them in before they ran into the artillery barrage. So instead, they climbed the trench mounds and taunted their foes.

When the last man disappeared over the horizon, Crist called a halt to the artillery barrage. Ares' army was broken and the vast majority of them now lay upon the field or in the trenches dead or dying.

* * * * *

General Crist surveyed the battlefield. Already there were large groups of people working to collect the wounded and to bury the dead. The work was grim and on the advice of the psychiatrist on the Respite, the people worked in shifts. Walking the fields littered with broken bodies, unattached limbs, and animal parts took nerves of steel.

The teams working the fields separated the bodies of the fallen defenders from those of Ares' army. The latter were buried in mass graves or burned much like the minotaurs and cyclopes before. The survivors either cremated or, in a cemetery established outside the city walls, buried the bodies of the defenders.

General Crist recalled the quote from Robert E. Lee, "It is well war is so terrible – lest we should grow too fond of it." Crist was pleased with how his army operated, they held the line and did not falter. The opposing army showed great fortitude born either by fear of Ares or bravery (probably a bit of both) on marching through a hail of steel and lead to reach the trenches.

Now that they won the battle and the enemy was in flight the grim task of cleaning up began. Not only did they need to dispose of dead bodies before disease spread amongst the survivors; they needed to locate and dispose of any unexploded shells buried in the blood soaked fields.

Colonel Jenkins walked up to Crist. He had a clipboard in hand and cleared his throat to gain the general's attention. Crist turned towards the colonel and smiled.

"You have those reports?" Crist asked.

"Yes sir," the colonel began. "We have expended a large portion of our munitions. We may be able to withstand one more -- maybe two more attacks like this -- if we use caution before we are dry."

The general nodded his head. He had tried to use restraint the day before; however, it nearly cost him the trenches. If it was not for the militia woman leading her forces into the trenches yesterday, it very well could have ended differently. Of course, the charge of the Sherman tanks against Ares helped a lot as well.

"Our casualty figures are pretty high. We suffered nearly 5000 casualties. Fortunately, only about 1700 are the dead and most of those were the militia and Zakrostian army.

"Unlike in those Douglas Fairbanks movies people generally do not die instantly from stab wounds. So, we were able to patch up many of our men…"

"And women," Crist interrupted. "These Atlanteans allow their women to fight, and I have to admit they can hold their own."

"Yes sir," Jenkins acquiesced. "However, a lot of those men and women will not be able to return to combat."

Colonel Jenkins lifted the first page of his report to look at the sheet beneath. He took a second to study it.

"The Respite reports," Jenkins continued, "that it has also exhausted much of its medical stores. The pharmacists have been working hard to find and manufacture replacement drugs, antiseptics, anesthesia, and other medical stores."

"That is as well as expected," General Crist replied. "How is the POW situation?"

Colonel Jenkins leafed through a few more sheets of paper on his clipboard until he found what he needed. He sighed and replied, "About 7340 prisoners of war. We have them in a hastily constructed prison camp right now."

"Fine," Crist replied. "I want you to set up some tribunals. The first I want you and Captain Arnold on."

"Yes sir," Jenkins responded. "But we need three officers."

"I want a local commander to sit with you," Crist offered. "This is not just our affair; in fact, it is more theirs than ours. So, I want two of our officers and one of theirs to sit on every tribunal court."

"But sir," Jenkins protested, "they don't hold ranks in their military like ours."

"That will change," Crist replied. "To start with I am promoting that woman that led the militia into the trenches to a general of the local forces. She will sit with you on the first tribunal."

Jenkins nodded his head. He did not know how well the locals would feel about a peasant being in charge of their army. But, all the aristocrats, the ones traditionally to lead the military, moved to the Kingdom of Atlantis after King Podaistas ceded Crist part of his realm.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Douglas Gogerty published on August 12, 2009 5:00 PM.

"The Adventures of Gaius Cornelius Ferrarius" - The Vengeful Friends Incident - Part I was the previous entry in this blog.

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