Arkhaven logo

Cemetery Hill panel 1

Episode 33

Cemetery Hill

The next morning we were on the outskirts of Corwis, the capital of the whole royal shebang. This was going to be the Melliol operation all over again, I figured. We’d go in, drone the artillery, shell the palace, then get the King. Though he might not want to surrender after what happened to his boy. Ah well—not my problem.

The Ulimbese had a camp set up already and we took the better part of a day claiming a farm for our own camp site. It was a good-sized commercial place with greenhouses and outbuildings, multiple sets of lodging for the employees, plus a great big plantation house the brass took for themselves as a command center. As for us grunts, we mostly set up in tents.

I slept like a rock until a mortar hit the pumphouse.

The shockwave woke me up as much as the sound did. You feel an explosion like that. You can tell the difference between a truck backfiring and a bomb exploding by waiting a second for the vibration of the air to sweep past you. That’s what woke me up—THUMP—and then the compression rolling through me. I jumped up, catching my head on the bar of the tent over my head, grabbed my kit, and was out the door. The adrenaline coursing through my veins was like a shot of espresso injected into my neck. The other seven guys in the tent were up too and heading cautiously into the yard. Shouts and the chatter of gunfire came from outside. I reached the flap and saw multiple men racing over the hedge at one end of the yard towards a smoking farm truck. I spun around and saw a stream of water shooting into the air from the ruined remains of the farm’s well. There went our fresh water.

“It’s over,” said Jones, slapping me on the shoulder. I jumped when he did. I was half asleep and pumped up on adrenaline at the same time.

“They took a potshot at us.”

Jones had been on watch, I remembered.

“Two soldiers a few farms over” he continued. “They already got ’em. Should never have gotten this close.”

“I’d say not,” I said. No matter how low the tech level, you can get killed just as easily with a brick as with a disrupter.

Other than the crazy wake-up call, the rest of the day was a waiting game while Colonel Emerson worked out his plan on taking Corwis. I took full advantage of my leisure time, walking around the farm, shooting the breeze with the other guys, getting some reading in. I even took a nap in the afternoon. Some local plumbers were pressed into service to fix the well, so we had running water again by the afternoon, and a re-built pumphouse. No lie. You can get stuff done quick when you have enough guys and powerful friends. Try getting that sort of thing done at home and it would take you a week or two, at the fastest. The farmer would be happy if he ever got his place back. The new one looked better than the old one.

In the late afternoon the colonel called our squad to the house. Guys had been going in and out for meetings the entire day. Now it was our turn.

The house was a nice place with two floors and sweeping staircases leading to a second story. All wood inside, with floors that looked like they’d seen a century of use; rich, brown and smooth with age. We were called into a greatroom to the back which looked like it probably hosted country dances in happier times. Tall windows were covered with thick drapes and old rifles and landscape paintings hung on the walls. In one corner was a pile of large striped winter squash with a red ribbon on one of them. They were obviously proud of their produce.

The brass had taken a couple of tables and turned them into a staging area for the taking of Corwistal. A large map was on the table and various positions were marked with plastic figurines denoting various forces. It was a far cry from the 3-D holographic projections we usually used. I kind of liked it though. It was wholesome, you know?

The colonel was flanked by the lieutenant colonel and a couple of lieutenants, plus our coffee-stealing major.

“Good afternoon, men,” he said as Jones, Park, Ward, Jock and I stood at attention. “At ease.”

We relaxed and he beckoned us over to the map.

“Good job securing that supply drop. It was ugly, but you held the location against the odds and made it back.”

“Thank you, sir,” we responded.

“We’ve got another job for you now, which hopefully will run much smoother than the previous mission. Lieutenant Evans?”

The lieutenant nodded and stepped forward to the map.

“Sir! As you can see here,” he gestured at the map, “we are currently located closest to the southern end of the capital. The capital itself is located next to the Ildris River, which enters the city bounds from the northeast and takes a snake-like series of up and down loops towards the south through the valley before exiting the municipality again towards the northwest. The Royal Palace is located on a hill of about 25 meters elevation over the river, on the north side of the river, in a relatively open area with only two guarded highway access points.

“In between us and the palace from our current location is a series of suburbs and an industrial district right along the river, containing warehouses, manufacturing and shipping facilities. To the northeast is the business district, with a large area of skyscrapers and–”

“Lieutenant, TMI,” the colonel said, clearing his throat. “Objective, please.”

“Sorry sir.”

The lieutenant pointed to a hill a solid 15 kilometers outside of the city.

“As you can see, this hill is bordered by a road to the east—which is the main artery into the capital from the south—and Lake Ildris to the west—a major water supply for Corwis—but the hill itself is mostly open. The little grey and white squares you see here and there across the top are grave markers.

“We have designated this Hill 621, though locals call it Cemetery Hill. Used to be a burial site hundreds of years ago for a nearby mining town, which has now fallen into decay. Now it’s occupied by the Corwistalian Royal Regulars. We attempted a drone flyover but the drone was destroyed. We’re not sure how many men are up there, but Ulimbese scouts have said there is a gun battery located there, overlooking the road.

“The reason this hill is tactically important is because it’s one of the highest locations in the area and a perfect location for us to place our own guns, putting us well within howitzer range of the city itself and giving us an excellent angle for shelling anything from the port district to the royal palace.”

Cemetery Hill panel 3
Cemetery Hill panel 4
Wardogs Inc. series cover
Cemetery Hill episode cover
31K views1.9K likes

Wardogs Inc.

List icon
Comment icon
Prev icon
Next icon
Fullscreen icon