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The way that this works is simple. We will leave you with an excerpt from one of the middle chapters. This plunges you into the story. We understand that you may not really know all of the characters or all of the sub-stories going on within the novel. That’s okay. We want your first impression.
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FROM “THE WORLD ENDERS” Book 1. (Please read this excerpt and leave us your comment as a review)
Bryner began to get reports from his scouts. A large camp with fire pits arranged in a horseshoe pattern. It appeared to be very recently abandoned. There were signs of a hasty departure. They appeared to be racing toward Birmingham through the woods.
Bryner and his trackers moved forward. They knew that if Gibbons and his people made it to the city it would be harder to fight them and there would be a lot more difficult cover to penetrate. Plus it could draw in other local bands and nomads. They had to make sure that the mercenaries were forced into a woodland firefight.
As they swept wide to form a broad skirmishing line with his top shots in the lead, a soft popping sounded a few hundred yards away and several of his men fell.
Came the yell and more people dropped from the shots fired by the sniper teams.
LAG sniper teams set up to try scoping and hunting down the mercenary snipers. As the teams lined up trying to counter, the snipers that they were now seeking had already moved back to vanish points. They were channeling out of the sight line along a gully that followed a streambed.
Ahead of them all movement had ceased. The LAG were holding low and positioning themselves for a counter attack. His mortar men now shelled the forest and hoped to damage or destroy the mercenary ambushers. The shelling blasted the area and also blew up dust and debris to cover their sudden advance. They raced forward to finish off any survivors of the shelling.
Just then explosions came from all around the troops as they rushed a minefield. Body parts and foliage flew everywhere. Shrapnel shredding anyone to close to the detonations. It was so loud that it took everyone in the front of the force a few moments to hear the screams and cries of the injured. The medics were brought forward to work on the wounded, but most were beyond medical aid. Bryner called a hold and brought forward the slaves to sweep the area. This time the slaves were blown to bits as he forced them forward. Some resisted and were shot to inspire others to press onward. They were expendable sinners who could only serve God by saving his loyal servants. Soon his hostage count dropped to very low numbers. But at last the explosions ended. With the mine field effectively swept the LAG advanced through the narrow region and back into the cover of the closed woods.
The stream that ran along the gully was broad and shallow. As the men of the LAG surged forward a silent signal was given farther up stream and barrels of blood from animals and humans alike were broken open and dumped into the swift moving water.
To the surprise and shock of the LAG troops moving through the stream the waters ran red. They realized that it was only blood dumped into the water to scare them and to make them nervous. It would take more than a scare tactic to dissuade the Crusaders. They sent teams to find the barrel breakers and take them captive, but the mercs had vanished and left only fourteen empty barrels on the stream bank. It was a stupid scare tactic.
The LAG troops were unimpressed. The blood in their boots and socks meant nothing to them. But a few miles away the stream carried the scent to curious noses.
As the men moved forward there were more traps. Arrow traps, dead falls, explosives, and flash pots. The LAG had become much more cautious as it fought to get past snipers, traps, and then came the blasters. Gibbons’s men used a variety of hand held rocket launchers, such as FMG-148 Javelins, M72 LAWs, SMAWs, RPG-7s, MILANs, etc.
As the soldiers moved forward the missile battery began. The area was a death zone and the Crusaders scattered widely to make sure that they were less of a target. Bryner struck back with his own barrage and now his heavy gunners cut loose to clear the battlefield. When the shooting broke and the smoke filled region settled, there was no hint of movement.
As the Crusaders surged forward the destruction showed only a handful of merc bodies. But it did not make sense. Surely there were more casualties? Gibbons’s men had fallen back farther into the deeper woods. The trees and foliage were thick and the mercenary trail was not difficult to follow.
A short distance behind the Crusaders in a gully with a swift running stream dark shapes moved against the current. The yellow eyes of a large black masked face crested the bank where the blood trail left the water.
The Hellspawn surveyed the battleground and moved at a steady pace after the host before them. There was plenty of food on the march in front of them.
It was an old task that they had performed many times. The pack spread out following their powerful leader as he slunk along assessing the prey. He started to pick up the pace and the pack moved in three columns single file through the scrub and smoking combat zone.
As they cleared the second thinner patch they spread out but still kept in three formations. Their speed increased and there was an excitement in the air. Among the pack the hunters were silent and focused. The prey was close and moving into thick cover. It was the perfect opportunity to take out the stragglers and rear of the formation.
The swift motion of the pack was deadly in its efficiency. The Crusaders vanguard never realized what was happening until the beasts ripped into them. Suddenly screams and snarls erupted from the men in the brush to the rear of the group. Snarling and growling forms quickly ripped the men to shreds but the pack did not feed yet. Gunfire broke out and the dogs rushed back into the distance and vanished. Bryner ordered more of his vanguard to hunt down and eliminate the pack.
As the men formed a rear charge to find and kill the pack they didn’t see the shadows that were closing them off from behind. In the distance a few dogs made brief appearances just out of easy gun shot range. The small group darted in and out of the trees in a slow and chaotic retreat. The Vanguard moved back along the path and fired wildly into the distance and trying to take out the dogs.
They were already out of the line of sight of the main LAG host. That was when Hellspawn swarmed in with the full weight of the Birmingham pack. The Vanguard was suddenly overtaken and torn down. Their screams could be heard across the woodlands and their gunfire filled the air. But the shooting was soon over and the dogs tore almost a hundred and fifty men to shreds in minutes.
“Kent, take your men and check out what is happening with our Vanguard! Jones start sweeping south and let’s hit them from behind. Skirt around and we’ll keep them pinned down and then close the trap. Remember no shelling in the pit. We need to make sure the Reverend is safe!”
Bryner roared the orders. Pointing in the direction he was sending the men. He was trying to figure out how many dogs could create such a problem that he was loosing the numbers of men he had seen scattered and torn up behind them?
It seemed impossible. They were just dogs! He called for Stan Wicket to find out more. He had to know what was happening. Wicket was quick to come to his side.
Bryner pointed to the bodies and Stan glanced at them and nodded.
“Yeah, that’s the work of the Hellspawn sir. This was why I warned you about him. Keep the men close and tell ‘em to grow eyes in the back of their heads. These dogs ain’t simple General. The beast has a way about him. He’s a thinker!”
“Just how smart is it Stan?”
“Smart enough to avoid getting shot. Smart enough to set traps! Smart enough to lure men away and then kill them! There are a lot of dogs sir. They’re all pretty seasoned man-eaters. All hardened by hunts and combat waged on them by the locals in Birmingham!”
Bryner thought hard about what Wicket was saying.
“Traps? They’re just dogs Stan!”
Wicket shook his head.
“Respectfully sir, look around you! There’s a lot of dead men an’ women who made the mistake of thinking that very thing! If they were just dogs they wouldn’t be coming close in a combat zone. Noise an’ numbers would keep ‘em away! Or they’d linger an’ get shot. Look around you sir. Hundreds of men fired at the pack when the first attack happened. We have over fifty dead men laying here. Where are all the dead dogs? There’s almost none! Think about it sir!”
Bryner couldn’t believe it but Wicket was right. There were very few dead dogs. The human casualties however were pretty bad. The carnage was eating at him. But it just seemed surreal. An animal luring a human or many humans into an ambush? He could not wrap his mind around the concept.
It seemed more likely that the pack had simply blitzed his men and then scattered too fast to be hit by many of the startled shooters. Dogs using military strategies was a ridiculous concept. It sounded as crazy as evolution! He respected Wicket and understood his opinion, but Bryner was sure that Stan had elevated the dogs in his esteem onto a level that was well above their actual abilities. He dismissed the man and then turned his attention back to the mercs.