"Morning sir," came the voice of one the captains as he pushed aside the the thin blanket that served as the door to the shack. "We've heard rumours that a shipment of contraband has just arrived and is being stored in some ruins just up the abandoned canal. It is probably nothing like all the previous rumours but I'd like to send a patrol to take a look."
"Who do you have?" "Well there's the new chap, Puller. Fresh from Sandhurst. He landed a couple of weeks ago and could use some seasoning." "Right give him a couple of good NCOs and send him out. The usual reminder about no heroics of course." "Right you are sir, I'll put him on it." The captain stepped out through the door and the adjutant turned his attention back to the petty administrative tasks that even the most g-d forsaken outpost of the Empire required - At least it wasn't Venus. "Mister Puller", the Captain said in a voice that while quiet, seemed to permeate every corner of the Officer's quarters. "Sir" replied a young thin voice. "I have a job for you. You will be taking out a patrol today, nothing too strenuous. You'll be assisted by Sergeant ----- and Corporal Jones. Two good men. Follow their advice and you won't go wrong. No heroics mind. Out, a quick look around and straight back to report." "Yes Sir!" replied Puller. "Get your kit together and I'll see you outside in a couple of minutes to brief the men. The sergeant has them well in hand."
After the Captain turned and left another voice piped up "I say, Toffee! Off to have a go at the natives wot? Good show!"
"Right you are Pomfret, I"ll give them one of the old school tie!"
As his batman Puller wasn't quite so sure, but he daren't let anyone see his nervousness. Stiff upper lip and all that....
I wanted to run a quick pre-campaign game to refamiliarize myself with the Soldier's Companion rules. I have a set of revised SoC rules by Bob Giglio that I will be trying out later in the campaign.
I decided to go with a British platoon versus a full warband of Hill Martians. In theory this should be roughly balanced, but I wasn't too worried about a perfect match.
|The Patrol sets out|
|What's that on the ridge?|
|Eyes hidden in the boulders.|
|End of the trail - or is it?|
|Red and barren vistas.|
|Look sir! Up there!|
|Advance with resolution!|
|Moving up the valley|
|Secure the centre!|
|Open order and into the rough|
|Take firing positions men!|
|The cunning natives plan.|
|One band heads up the hill.|
One band headed up the hill.
|The other heads west behind the ridge.|
|The rough ground holds things up.|
|Hold your fire - They're too far away lad!|
|Up, and over!|
|Shaking out behind the ridge.|
|The natives head into the rough.....|
|And disappear - the cowards!|
|And the earthers wait under the blazing sun.|
|Orders are orders, move out!|
|But the hills have eyes.|
|A quick look then back to barracks.|
|Forming mass to charge.|
|Why have the dice gods forsaken me?|
|Re-checking the rules didn't help.|
|Over the hill!|
|But come up short, ending in disorder....|
|Puller takes a shot!|
|Casualties on the hill...|
|The riders fire!|
|As do the band coming down the hill.|
|Like Earther like Martian - the only thing taking hits is dirt.|
|From disorder to line to lay down fire.|
|The hill band charges!|
|Puller's men fire at the skirmish line taking one down.|
|As the second charge is about to hit, the triangle fire!|
|Two more hits!|
|But no effect!|
|Hits on the second charge.|
|And Martians drop....|
|But not all...|
|The reluctant warriors steel themselves and charge again!|
|The mass of melee|
|And the British fall under the knives of the Martians.|
Num'da looked at the fallen earth men. "Take all their arms and ammunition - we can use that later. Share out any cloth and metal and be sure to set aside the widow's portion."
"And the bodies War Leader?"
"We don't know their burial practices - lay them out in rows. We're not barbarians."
"The roogies will get them...."
"They might, yes - but let the red mens' ghosts bother the roogies and not us. And move the goods out of the ruins - they know we're here now."
The Captain watched as a full company scoured the site of Puller's last stand. His men were busy dragging the scarlet clad bodies to a waiting cart, handkerchiefs wrapped around their faces to keep out the stink and the flies.
A sergeant approached "Guns, ammunition, leather, cloth and metal all gone. It looks like they were stripped and then cut to pieces. It might have been animals... From what we can find it looks like two are missing from the patrol. We can't tell who yet."
"Animals indeed!" snapped the Captain, "The most vicious animal on this ball of dust walks on two legs. Get them on the cart, and for God's sake find a tarpaulin to cover them before we take them into camp. A patrol wiped out is bad enough without showing the results to the new arrivals."
There would be a price to pay.