Though it was a bitter cold afternoon, He could feel the internal warmth fueled by the mixture of anticipation and adrenaline. He only hoped it would be enough to discourage the elements to lay pray upon his weary body. It had been 7 long months since he had seen his wife and children, waiting at home blissfully unaware of the danger he now faced. The thoughts of his loving family brought a single tear forth from his right eye, it drifted lazily down his cheek to lay upon his rugged unkept facial hair. He quickly wiped away the evidence it had once existed, can't let the men see that.
"The troops are getting anxious." He casually glanced back at his most trusted officer who fell in formation behind him. Apprehension coming from his own voice.
"They are tired. We all are." He paused reflecting on how long some of the others in his battalion had been away from thier families. Even still how many of them would never return to see them. "We will just have to hope God is on our side this day." With that he lazily tugged at his steed, the loyal beast seemed to feel the tension in their air as well.
The waiting. How he hated the waiting. Everyone hated the waiting but he felt it was by far the worst part of any coming battle. "A little face time with the front line might help," he thought to himself, "Certainly couldn't make things worse."
As he slowly made his way down the formation, eyeing the men there who all quickly nodded a salute to him, he felt more despair at the cmoning storm. They would never voice thier complaints to him. To well trained for that. No, they would ofcourse follow their orders. His orders. He had their lives in his hands and even if he disagreed with what the higher-ups commanded of his men, he didn't have to like it. He met their steady gaze, one by one, showing appreciation without having to say a word.
The sudden swish as a bird launched itself from a nearby tree, caused him to halt his horse. Though he tried, he couldn't make out what type it was but watched it as it flew across the open plain that lay ahead of them disappearing far across the horizon.
A fog was rolling in. An omen to be sure. His heart sank. The fog of war, it seems to be on every battleground at once. It was clear that someone didn't much care what they were doing. Even with both sides fighting for what they deemed noble causes, war is war. You can't dress it up in fancy clothes and take to a fine dining estabolishment. Its putrid stench would give it away. Yet a full year later, here he was, still fighting for what he considered the most important cause of all. Freedom.
Slence overtook them. The men noticed the lack of usual animal noises and a hush full upon them. As if the whole world held its breath. The fog thickened. "Not long now." He thought as he continued his march down the line. He wished he had something uplifting to tell his men. Something that would lift their morale and give them the fighting spirit that seemed to be all but a hollow shell of its former self. No such words came to him though. He knew, as they did, that they were haevily outnumbered and not likely to survive the end of this day.
His reached the end, the heavy unit. They were busy double checking their cannons. Fiddling with fuses, opening storage pouches, lining ammunition. Making sure everything was ready for when the time comes. The squad leader looked up at him through eyes veiled with fatigue.
"Everything is in fine order, Captain. You may, ofcourse, double check to your satisfaction."
"That won't be nessecary, Lieutenit. I have every confidence in the excellent abilities of your unit. I have no doubt they will fulfill their role exceptionally."
"I thank you for the kind words, sir." He threw up a crisp salute, more effort used then his scarred arm would have allowed.
"Carry on," He returned the saulute in kind and reared his animal back the way he had come.
As he returned to his position at the head of infantry, next to his second in command, the sound they had all been waiting for finally came slowly rolling down the plain. Quietly at first, then echoing with intensity as the appraoching army drew nearer. The grinding of machine. The clank of metallic feet. The fearfully exact march or every step being in sync. The Machine Army was indeed approaching.
The Captain looked up, amazed that in a scene of such despair as this, the sunset would still be so beautiful. Would this be his last glimpse of beauty?
"Steady." His horse bucked fearfully from beneath him. He checked his officer's revolver, reassuring himself as he had severl times before, that it was indeed fully loaded. All around him he heard the sounds of his men checking the powder, ammo, fuse, of thier muskets. They raised themselves to their feet getting ready to face whatever future fate would see fit to give them. With the weapon firmly gripped in his left hand he drew his cutless with his right.
Closer now the marching came and he could just barely make out the dark band that ringed around the edge of the fog. He turned to his men. The time was at last upon them. With a mighty battlecry that started low in his stomach and vibrated out through his entire body, he threw his heals into the flank of his stallion. With blistering speed his cavelry emerged from the shelter of the forest's edge, the infantry following behind. His cry echoed by all 237 of his battalion as they hurled themselves head first into the fog.