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Tales from the Amazon Wars, Episode 5

The two Amazon princesses, daughters of the great Queen, sat alone in the large command tent in the middle of the Amazon war camp. Livia, the older sister, the fiery woman with long straight auburn hair who was heiress to the throne, moved some figurines of army women across a map. “Take three brigades and attack the enemy on the other side of the island. I’ll take these five brigades here and attack that Katarina, that woman who fights for those men, and bring her down once and for all.”

Jenova, the calmer and more patient younger sister, ran a finger through her curly, shoulder-length jet black hair. “Only three? Let’s divide them evenly, four and four. The armies each of us will face are the same size.”

“You have the easy job,” said Livia. “All you have to do is defeat an army led by a man. I have to defeat a female commander. Now get your girls moving. You’ve got a long march ahead of you.”

“Yes, sister,” sighed Jenova reluctantly, departing the tent.

Livia watched her go, then ran her fingers over the map, knocking over the male figurines that represented the enemy. From the reports her scouts had brought her, Livia knew she would be facing perhaps 6000, or 6500 at the most, Royalist soldiers. Her force of 5000 Amazons should be able to defeat them easily. She had won facing worse odds many times before.

* * *

Princess Katarina, daughter of King Frederick IX and commander of the Royalist Army that had been sent to this island to defeat the Amazons, tossed and turned in her tent, unable to sleep. Every time she closed her eyes, she kept seeing those words from that letter from her father:

“I am naming your younger brother heir to the throne.”

Frederick Junior. Little F. Little Fuck-up. Her younger brother was far too incompetent to ever make a good king. But because of her father’s reasoning – that he feared she would be assassinated by power-hungry nobles who preferred the easy-to-manipulate Little F as ruler if she was named queen – the stupid young Little Fuck-up was being given this undeserved chance.

Despite his misguided decision, she loved her father. She would never betray him. As long as he was in charge, she would fight for king and country. But when Little F ascended to the throne…that would be a different story. Her two choices when that happened – obeying her idiotic little brother’s orders or committing treason – seemed equally repulsive. Luckily, it was a decision she would hopefully not have to make for many years. Her father was getting on in age, but was still strong and in good health.

She yawned. Running her fingers through her long silky black hair, she turned over and went to sleep.

* * *

General Norton sat on his horse, frowning as he surveyed his army. The general had been sent to lead this half of the Royalist relief force while Katarina led the other half. The army had marched out strong, 6000 infantry and 1000 cavalry, the same size as Katarina’s force. He wondered how she was doing, on the other side of the island. He was a capable officer – she wouldn’t have chosen him to lead if he had not been – but no man in the King’s army could match the Princess’s intelligence, leadership, or fighting skills.

His army was not so strong now, he thought worriedly. The small bands of Amazon troops had fallen back before the advance of his large force. But as they marched further inland, Amazon archers had begun nailing the fringes of his army with lethally accurate arrows, targeting officers first and always getting away before the Royalists could mount an effective response. Although the casualties they had taken were relatively light – about two hundred men dead – the disproportionate loss of officers and the fact that the Royalists had been unable to retaliate was crippling to morale. The biggest losses had come from desertion. Over a thousand men had deserted, some from simple cowardice and some tempted by greedy slick talkers who promised them riches and women if they became bandits roaming the countryside. Norton had ordered captured deserters beheaded to make examples of them, but still the desertions continued.

* * *

The band of 30 thuggish-looking deserters, hidden in the trees, smirked as they looked down at the three Amazon wagons passing by on the road below, each driven by a single teenage girl. After abandoning the Royalist army, they had raped and pillaged their way across the countryside, attacking their own citizens. Now, they would attack these girls. They didn’t care who they killed. They had lost all honor, if they had had any in the first place. The men aimed their muskets, waiting for the signal to fire.

But suddenly, all three wagon covers were ripped away, revealing half a dozen Amazon archers hidden in each wagon. With blinding speed and deadly accuracy, they released their arrows. Eighteen shots. Eighteen men dropped dead. At the same time, each of the girls driving the wagons drew hidden knives and threw them. Three more males dropped, blades driven straight into their hearts.

The survivors screamed in fear, panic, and shock. Some began running away, while others fired off their muskets, none of the bullets finding their mark. The Amazons reloaded and fired a second volley.

* * *

“My Princess Jenova. I bring you a gift,” said the slender, pretty teenage girl. She motioned with her slim wrist, bracelets sliding as she raised her arm, and two equally petite girls shoved forward two male captives, each wounded with an arrow right in their buttocks. The girls savagely kicked their victims, then yanked them up by their hair. “Show your faces to the Princess.”

“And what have we here?” asked Jenova.

“Deserters from the Royalist army, milady. They’ve been raping and pillaging their way across the countryside, attacking friend and foe alike. They thought they could ambush one of our caravans. Of course we outsmarted them. There were thirty of them. These are the only survivors.”

Jenova calmly walked up to the first prisoner. “You will tell me everything you know about the strength and position of the Royalist army.”

“Like hell I will, bitch,” he spat at her. Despite having deserted from the army and having no loyalty to it, he didn’t want to talk because he was a sexist pig who hated the idea of obeying a woman.

The Amazon princess, in one fluid motion, drew her sword and cut off his head. Ignoring the blood splattering all over her dress, she turned to the second captive and said, “You will tell me…”

“Yes, yes, of course! I’ll tell you everything!” He was shrieking, sobbing, begging for his life to be spared.

“Squeeze all you can out of him, then use him for target practice,” Jenova whispered to the teenage girl next to her. The girl nodded and smirked. Jenova crossed her slender but muscular arms in front of her as she watched. She wasn’t a sadist like her sister, but cowardly deserters who raped and pillaged even their own people deserved no mercy.

* * *

“The Amazons are coming! The Amazons are coming!” shouted the scout. “General Norton, the Amazons are charging! Cavalry coming up on us very fast! Infantry behind them!”

The general looked off into the distance in alarm. 500 Amazon heavy cavalry were charging the front part of his long column of marching soldiers, their lances already lowered. Further back, he could see a thousand female archers, accompanied by a thousand swordswomen, jogging towards the scene of the coming battle, their fit bodies showing no sign of getting tired. In the rear, Princess Jenova, in command, sat on her horse, calling out orders.

The Royalists were in panic mode, despite the attacking Amazon force being only half their size. Some fired their muskets wildly, but the ragged shots had no chance of stopping the powerful charge of the horsewomen. As they frantically tried to reload their muskets, they froze in fear as it became clear that the Amazons would crash into them before they could fire their second shots. Some of the men dropped their weapons and raised their hands in surrender. It did them no good. The sexy warrior maidens, showing no mercy, rode into them, impaling male soldiers with their lances or simply trampling them to death. Other men tried to run away, but they were swiftly ridden down by the girls or slain with well-aimed axe throws to their retreating backs.

“FORM SQUARES, YOU FOOLS!” roared General Norton. “FORM SQUARES!” The Royalist soldiers finally began forming up. It was too late for many of them, who were slaughtered by the Amazon riders before they could get into formation, but the surviving infantry managed to group themselves into four large squares of a thousand men each, with the commanding officers clustered in the center of each one. A thousand infantrymen already lay dead on the field.

General Norton and his staff officers, on a small hill to the rear of his army, barked more orders as he continued observing the scene. “Artillerymen, get those cannons set up, and start blasting the enemy! Cavalry, hold but be prepared to charge at a moment’s notice!”

The Royalist force was well-equipped with 20 cannons, but the slow, clumsy weapons took time to set up. Meanwhile, Jenova, recognizing the danger the squares would pose to her cavalry despite never having seen those tactics before, uttered a sharp command and through a rapid relay of signals, her horsewomen retreated under orders and regrouped in the rear.

In their place, the female archers marched up and began firing into the squares with their powerful longbows. Despite being outnumbered four to one, the longbow-women were able to dominate the field with their long-range weapons, which could kill at 300 yards, while the Royalists’ muskets had an effective range of only 100 yards. Slowly but steadily, male bodies began dropping with arrows impaled in them, while the musket balls they fired back at the enemy fell short into the ground.

Finally, the cannons, set up in four rows of five each, were ready. They began blasting the girl-archers with grapeshot and canister. The longbow-women’s arrows couldn’t reach the cannons, but they continued firing into the musketeers, who still couldn’t hit back with the shorter range of their weapons. “Infantry into line formation. Prepare to advance,” ordered General Norton.

Jenova scowled as she watched the scene. Livia had refused to allow her to take any of the cannons the Amazons had captured with her army, saying they had to march quickly across the island and the artillery would slow them down too much. Now she would have to make do with what she had.

She knew she had to act fast. As the blue-coated Royalists shifted from one formation to another, she gave a signal with her fist. Immediately, the thousand Amazon swordswomen charged straight at the male infantry with spine-chilling warrior cries. As soon as they got within a hundred yards, they threw their athletic female bodies into cartwheels followed by back handsprings, elegantly backflipping at incredible speed towards their targets.

The male soldiers were not yet properly formed into lines, and their musket fire was ragged and ineffective, only scoring a few lucky hits. The cannons fired into the charging swordswomen, but the Amazons were charging in a loose formation instead of being densely packed, limiting the effectiveness of the artillery. In less than twenty seconds, the rapidly flick-flacking girls crashed into the male soldiers, forcing the cannoneers to stop firing so they wouldn’t hit their own men. The swordswomen, each wielding a blade in each hand, easily sliced and diced their way through their male victims, the Royalists’ bayonets being no match for them. Slowly but steadily, they began chewing up the much larger male army.

Then a war horn sounded. The Amazon heavy cavalry were charging again. General Norton barked more orders. “Cavalry, intercept the enemy riders! Artillery, soften up the horsewomen, then switch to the archers when our boys ride into them!”

At first, it seemed to be working, although the cannons weren’t able to do much damage to the Amazon cavalry because of the speed of their charge. But the Royalist cavalry attacked their female counterparts, seemingly pinning them between the infantry and themselves…

Suddenly, 500 light horsewomen charged out of the nearby woods where they had been hiding. Jenova had kept them in reserve, waiting for a situation just like this. Now, the Amazon light cavalry attacked with arrows and thrown spears and axes from the other side, making it the Royalist cavalry’s turn to be facing a double-sided attack. Panicking, the surviving male riders urged their horses away in a rapid retreat until they were under the covering fire of the cannons.

Now freed, the Amazon heavy cavalry rode straight into the mass of male infantry, lancing and trampling everything in their path and splitting the Royalist force in two. They, along with the swordswomen, completely surrounded the far half of the male army, while horse archers and longbow-women fired over their comrades’ heads and into the trapped men. Meanwhile, Jenova detached part of the female infantry from the main Amazon army and personally charged forward to lead the small force of swordswomen and archers to attack the other half of the Royalist army.

“Retreat!” shouted General Norton. “First line of cannons, keep firing! Cover the retreat and hold off the enemy for as long as possible! Get the rest of the cannons hitched up to the horses and get them out of here!”

“My lord,” said one of his staff officers. “What about the men on the far side?”

The general shook his head. “They’re lost. All we can do now is save the other half of the army.”

“And the front line of cannons?”

“Better to lose five cannons than twenty.”

The staff officer gulped and nodded, glad that he was not one of the expendables.

Men, horses, and cannons hurried away from the battlefield as fast as they could. When they had passed, the soldiers manning the front line of five cannons that had been ordered to cover the retreat were left alone on a ridge, firing desperately at the screaming, charging Amazons led by sexy Jenova.

An explosion of canister blew several Amazons in the front rank to pieces and splattered Jenova with blood. Some of the younger girls began to hesitate, but the Amazon princess, with a shrill shriek, drew back her bow and fired a perfectly aimed shot right into the heart of a man just before he could light the fuse to another cannon. With cheers, the Amazons, now in archery range, fired a devastating volley into the cannoneers. The survivors turned and ran, but were all shot down by a second volley.

General Norton took one last, sad look at the scene below him before turning his horse away. In the distance, the surrounded men were screaming, begging, pleading, their horrified cries audible even at the great distance. He shook his head. It was them or the whole army.

“Secure these cannons!” Jenova ordered. “Drag them back to our lines. Archers, cover them and drive off anyone who tries to take the cannons back, but do not pursue.” With that, she rode back to the main force of Amazons.

In the middle of the deadly trap, there were only a few hundred men left alive, surrounded by piles of male corpses. The highest-ranking Royalist left, a colonel, raised a white flag of surrender.

“What say you, milady?” the commander of the archers asked Jenova. “Do we take prisoners or slaughter them all?”

“I’ll handle this,” said the Princess. “Cease fire!” she ordered. The girl-archers looked at her, most of them wanting to continue the massacre, but obeyed their Princess’s order.

“Drop your weapons!” Jenova ordered the men. “Form one line, facing me! Officers, stand in a separate group over there!”

The terrified males quickly obeyed her command. Because the Amazons were wearing their traditional leather uniforms of short shorts, tank tops, and knee-high boots, showing off their tanned, muscular bodies, many of the men had hard-ons despite their fear. Some of the men who were badly wounded remained on the ground, moaning. Even some of the wounded males had erections.

Jenova, smirking to herself at the men “standing at attention,” addressed the line of enlisted men. “Starting from this end, every third man step forward!”

Again they obeyed. The Amazon Princess raised her arm, then lowered it. A perfectly aimed volley of arrows slammed into the soldiers who had been ordered forward, each arrow striking its target right between the eyes. A hundred men fell dead in complete unison. The males still standing quivered in terror. Some wet their pants.

Jenova addressed the survivors coldly. “I am capable of showing mercy. I will never show weakness. That demonstration was to assure you that what I am showing now is the former and not the latter. You are now the property of the Amazon Nation. Accept your fate, and you will live. Resist, and you will die.”

Unarmed, she walked fearlessly up to the line of men, most of whom were taller than her and all of whom were heavier than the slender girl. She strolled in front of them, looking straight into the frightened eyes of each captive she passed, and stopped in front of one. “What are you?”

“I am a soldier of the Royalist army, loyal servant of His Majesty, King Fred…”

With lightning speed, Jenova performed a standing backflip, kicking the speaker in the underside of his jaw. Her backflip kick was so powerful that it broke his neck instantly with a sickening CRACK. The odd angle of his neck as he fell to the dirt left no doubt that he was now a corpse.

The Princess’s face remained expressionless as she landed perfectly on her booted feet. She turned to the next man. “What are y…”

“I am a humble male slave, the property of the Amazon Nation!” he cried in panic. She smirked. Looking at the other men, her gaze was met with submissive lowerings of heads. She nodded in satisfaction, then, with a series of elegant standing back handsprings, made her way back to her officers.

“Shackle the men and march them off with the other spoils of battle,” she ordered. “Keep the officers separate, I’m going to interrogate them later. Any man who is wounded too badly to walk…put him out of his misery.”

* * *

Princess Katarina’s army marched through the green, rolling hills towards Amazon territory. Like she had earlier, Katarina rode up and down the column, checking in with each of her high-ranking officers, making sure that everything was all right and keeping a sharp eye out for any Amazon ambushes.

Suddenly, there was a commotion from the rear. “A messenger!” came a shout. A haggard-looking soldier rode up and handed the Princess a sealed envelope.

“For your eyes only, my Lady.”

“Thank you.” She found a private spot to the side of the column, then opened the letter. She cursed as she read it.

Katarina rode over to her chief of staff. “Norton suffered a bad defeat. He lost half his army and five of his cannons. The survivors have retreated to our fortifications at San Sebastian, licking their wounds.”

The male officer shook his head. “Perhaps if I had been in command of that force…”

She gave him a hard stare. “Most likely, your army would have suffered the same fate. It appears that it takes a woman to stand up to the might of these Amazons. I hope you are not questioning my decisions on who to appoint as my division commanders.”

“Of c…course not, my Princess. I’m sorry.”

“That’s what I thought. Now, back to business. If we can defeat the enemy on this side of the island, we can secure the northern flank of our territory, then march south again and intercept any enemy that might be coming to attack.” She raised her arm, bracelets sliding down her slender wrist. “Messenger!”

The haggard rider hurried over. “Yes, milady?”

“Get a message to my father. I want two full divisions of reinforcements from the mainland. And one more message, this one for the Colonial Capital.” She whispered into his ear and he nodded.

“Yes, my Princess.” He swiftly rode off into the distance.

Katarina turned back to her chief of staff. “Until we get those reinforcements, with Norton’s losses we simply don’t have the manpower for large-scale offensive operations. After this battle we’ll have to confine ourselves to defending the part of the island between San Sebastian in the south and Fort Osweiler in the north until fresh troops arrive. Keep Norton’s defeat secret, I don’t want the men’s morale to drop into the toilet. I’m going up ahead to talk with the scouts.”

Katarina rode up to the scout commander. “What have you to report, Captain?”

“This open country continues for a little while longer, my Lady. However, sometime tomorrow the main route would take us into a narrow canyon. It would be…you know.”

She nodded. “Way too easy for the Amazons to ambush us there. We’ll have to come up with an alternate plan.” She looked at the sun, low in the western sky. “Keep on for another hour, then we’ll make camp for the night.”

TO BE CONTINUED…

 

Tales from the Amazon Wars, Episode 4

Early the next morning, as the army was on its way again, a squadron of scouts rode up to Roslyn. “My Princess. I think you’ll want to see this,” said their commander. They led her to a group of seven male heads, decapitated and impaled on pikes. The heads were those of Prince Antonius and his six generals.

“Bury those quickly, and don’t let the rest of the men see them,” she ordered. Roslyn shook her head. She knew she was “supposed” to feel sorrow for the loss of her brother, but he and his twin had been nothing but arrogant jerks to her all their lives. She just wasn’t feeling much at all.

It was around noon when it became clear that a major battle would start soon. The two sides’ cavalry had been skirmishing all morning, with the action steadily increasing in intensity. Finally, the Amazon horse archers approached the Imperial army en masse, preparing for a full-on attack.

The teenage Amazon princess whose little force of 2000 women had effortlessly slaughtered 20,000 men smirked arrogantly as her horse archers approached the enemy. She had cockily refused her Queen’s offer of reinforcements for the next battle, thinking that if her small army could exterminate 20,000 so easily, what was 9000 to them? Unfortunately for her, she had no idea that Roslyn was in command.

“This is it, men,” said Roslyn, riding back and forth across her force’s lines, trying to comfort and encourage the soldiers who knew what this girl-army had done to their comrades. “Stand strong. For the Empire! Archers, prepare to fire on my signal.”

And so it began, 1500 Imperial crossbowmen versus 1200 female horse archers. The crossbowmen readied their Mark VIIs. Roslyn’s trained eyes watched the enemy horsewomen ride closer and closer. When she judged the distance to be just right, she shouted, “FIRE!”

A volley of steel bolts flew towards the Amazons. Many fell short and many missed the petite, fast moving targets, but several dozen riders fell off their horses and hit the desert floor hard. The Amazons fired a volley of arrows in response, but the lesser range of their bows caused them to fall short.

“NOW! SHIELDS!” screamed Roslyn. The crossbowmen removed the massive shields they had been carrying on their backs and planted them into the ground. Ducking behind cover, they reloaded their weapons as the Amazons, whose bows could be fired much more quickly, sent another shower of projectiles.

The Amazon Princess cursed as she saw the arrows slam harmlessly into the shields. And she couldn’t order her force to ride around and attack the enemy from behind because the river was covering their rear. A lesser force, a force of men, would have ridden away. But the Amazons were women with balls (not literally, of course). The riders charged closer, screaming war cries. The crossbowmen fired another volley, dropping several dozen more Amazons, but now the girl-archers were in range themselves. Some of the fastest and most accurate markswomen were able to kill Imperial targets as they popped out from behind their shields to shoot.

Both Princess Roslyn and the Amazon Princess quickly ordered their troops to begin firing at will instead of using volleys. A nail-biting archery duel developed. At first, the Imperials had the upper hand thanks to the greater range of their weapons and their shields, but as the horsewomen drew closer, they were able to fire their bows at steep upward angles, avoiding the shields and nailing men in the backs of their necks or tops of their skulls. And the Imperials’ Mark VII crossbows, though much faster to fire than the Mark VIs that Antonius had foolishly used, were still a lot slower than the Amazon horse archers’ bows. Soon, male bodies began dropping much faster than females.

Roslyn was ready. “Cavalry charge!” she ordered, preparing to lead them herself. Trumpets blared as she led her 1500 light horsemen against the Amazon horse archers. Blocking an arrow with her shield, she killed the shooter with a well-aimed and powerfully thrown spear. There was a brief further exchange of arrows and thrown spears, resulting in a few dozen casualties on each side, before the Amazons retreated. Seeing the 800 Amazon heavy cavalry waiting in the distance, Roslyn ordered her own force to retreat as well.

“Now what?” asked one of her generals.

“We wait,” she said simply.

The Amazon commander cursed again as her horse archers retreated. “Attack! Attack, you cowards!” the hotheaded teenage girl screamed.

“My Princess, please,” said a middle-aged woman, an advisor who had been sent by the Queen to prevent the fiery princess from getting herself or her army into too much trouble. “They would have been caught between the enemy cavalry and the crossbows. They had to retreat. They had no choice.”

“Then send the heavy cavalry to attack!”

“My Lady, the enemy has spears backed with crossbows. It would be suicide. They outnumber us almost five to one. We must send for reinforcements. Then we will be able to defeat them.”

The teenage Amazon growled angrily. “We were able to defeat them effortlessly when they outnumbered us ten to one! Why do they fight like they have balls all of a sudden?!”

“I think I can answer that, my Princess,” said one of the horse archers. “I saw their commander. It’s a woman.”

Nods of understanding came from the Amazons at that. “But why would a woman fight for those males?” asked the Princess.

“That question will have to wait,” said the advisor. “Right now, we need to focus on getting those reinforcements.”

As the Amazons retreated into the distance on their horses, the Imperial army let out a loud cheer, whooping and hollering. Roslyn was about to remind them that all they had done was run off a force barely one-fifth their size, but stopped herself. Let them have this, she thought. It would be good for morale. The men certainly seemed happier and less frightened as they were setting up camp, the Imperial Princess thought as she stepped into the command tent that evening for a meeting with her senior officers.

“We lost slightly more than 200 men. The Amazons lost a little less than that,” one of her generals reported. “However, because their force was much smaller, proportionately they suffered a much greater percentage of casualties. They can’t sustain that, so I wouldn’t expect any more attacks until they get reinforcements.”

“Conventional attacks, yes,” said Roslyn. “But they may try more sneak attacks at night.” She had already ordered double sentries looking out over the desert and triple sentries on the river. “We’ll continue to advance along the river towards enemy territory. The big battle is yet to come.”

Suddenly, a man wearing the uniform of an Imperial Messenger burst into the tent. “My Lady,” he said, bowing to the Princess and handing her a sealed envelope. “From the King himself, for your eyes only.”

Roslyn thanked and dismissed him, then opened the letter. Her eyes widened as she read it:

“My dear daughter,

Your brother, Albert, has returned to the capital with the tattered remnants of an army, most of which he squandered in foolish suicide attacks against the barbarians of the north. That was the last straw. With the lack of intellect of both of my sons and the death of Antonius, I am naming you the heir to the throne. I know you will make a strong and wise Queen when it is your time.

Good luck in your battle and know that win or lose, a crown is waiting for you upon your return home.

Love, Father”

Roslyn pumped her fist in triumph, then noticed that all the men in the tent were staring at her. “You are dismissed,” she said quickly.

Three days later, a scout returned with the news the Imperials had all been anticipating. “An Amazon army marches on us. Their numbers match ours. Nine thousand men…er, women.”

“Thank you,” said Roslyn. She nodded to herself. Now would be the real test. Fighting against these lethal Amazons in numbers equal to her own.

The plain of battle was hot, dusty, and dry, with the fierce desert sun beating down on both armies. The Amazons had formed up in a strong defensive position to the east of Roslyn’s army, with the river covering one of their flanks and a mass of cavalry guarding the other. The girl-warriors were simply holding and making no move to charge. The Imperials would have to attack with the sun shining right at their faces.

“Clever,” Roslyn murmured. “They can outwait us. Our supply lines are longer and we don’t know this territory as well as they do. They’ve forced us onto the offensive in a disadvantageous postion.”

“Shall I order the men to begin advancing, my Lady?” one of her generals asked.

“Not yet. Give the sun a little time to rise further so it won’t be right in their eyes. Hold a defensive position for now in case they attack.”

As they waited, Roslyn ordered her light cavalry to use their spyglasses to gather as much information about the enemy as they could. “They have heavy and light cavalry massed at the north. Swordswomen lined up two deep facing us to the south of the riders, with archers right behind them and the main body of swordswomen in the rear,” came the report.

She nodded, looking at the sun. The angle wasn’t too bad now, and if she waited much longer it would get very hot. The heat would impact the heavily armored, cold-climate-dwelling Imperials much more than it would the lightly armored, darkly tanned Amazons. “Thank you. General, prepare your men to advance. Crossbowmen, load. Prepare to fire on my order.”

The Imperial crossbowmen, locked and loaded, marched forward. Roslyn’s trained eyes judged the distance as it grew closer and closer, waiting to deliver the first volley at their exact maximum range.

But suddenly, a barrage of arrows came flying at the crossbowmen. They slammed into the front ranks of males with devastating efficiency, dropping many dead and others with gory wounds from the thick, massive arrows. The Amazon archers, tall, ultra-muscular women with the enormous strength needed to draw back their lethal long-range longbows, laughed triumphantly and prepared to fire again.

Chaos erupted in the Imperial ranks. Some of the crossbowmen loosed their bolts, which fell short of the enemy. Others began to turn and run. “What devilry is this, bows with a longer range than ours?” cried an officer.

“Now is not the time to wonder about that,” said Roslyn, urging her horse forward. “HOLD, YOU FOOLS!” she screamed at the crossbowmen. “DON’T RETREAT! HOLD YOUR FIRE AND USE YOUR SHIELDS!”

Her strong leadership restored order, and the crossbowmen planted their shields into the ground, hiding behind them as the female archers fired another volley. Some men were too slow and dropped dead, but most of them were safe behind their shields this time.

“In range! NOW! FIRE!” she shouted. A barrage of steel bolts flew towards the Amazons. It was not as efficient as it should have been, since some of the men had foolishly fired earlier and were still reloading, but she knew that they had to get a first volley off before the enemy reloaded. Several dozen Amazons fell to the ground.

“Fire at will!” ordered Princess Roslyn and the commander of the girl-archers to their respective armies. Again an archery duel erupted. The Amazon longbows could fire ten arrows a minute compared with the Imperial crossbows’ four. At first, the males’ shields evened things out, only allowing the Amazons to hit them when they popped out to fire, but as the armies drew closer the female archers were able to shoot at steeper angles, sending arrows over the shields and into the men’s skulls. Once they were able to do that, the Amazons’ superior firepower and markswomanship meant that three or four males were dropping dead for every female.

Although few knights had traveled with the army, their leader, Duke Larssen, a fat fool who was called Duke Lardo behind his back, was there, along with about 80 other mounted noblemen. The duke growled, annoyed at having to serve under a woman and wanting glory for himself. “Prepare to charge!” he ordered his knights. “We’ll sweep those archer bitches off the field. Swordswomen just two ranks deep in front of them? We’ll mow them down like grass.”

“Crossbowmen, retreat under shields!” Roslyn ordered. “Infantry, first division, advan…what the fuck?”

With a roar, Duke Larssen and his 80 knights were charging across the plain. The Amazons pumped arrows into them. By the time they reached the enemy line, 60 of them were dead. The 20 survivors prepared to ride into the front ranks of swordswomen, but the girls suddenly picked up long spears that had been hiding in the dirt. The knights rode into them and were impaled and slaughtered to the last man. A slender teenage girl with dark brown skin and long silky black hair cut off the duke’s head with her sword and impaled it on a spear.

“Fucking idiots,” said Roslyn. “Now, back to real war. Infantry, first division, advance!” The Imperial infantry marched forward. Arrows slammed into their shields. Other men were not so lucky, as arrows nailed their heads from above. Behind them, Roslyn re-formed the crossbowmen. They fired over the infantry’s heads and into the Amazons, reducing the pressure somewhat.

In the front of the Amazon ranks, 150 teenage girls with swords and spears formed a thin brown line, guarding the Amazon archers firing over their heads behind them, standing with balls of steel as thousands of Imperial heavy infantrymen drew closer and closer. Though outnumbered 20 to 1 and occasionally being hit by bolts from the crossbowmen, they showed no fear.

Suddenly, with perfect coordination, the girls hurled their spears at the faces of the front ranks of Imperial infantry. Only a few men moved their shields upward in time and over a hundred males dropped stone cold dead. The girls then hurled themselves into cartwheels followed by back handsprings, elegantly backflipping towards their enemies with incredible speed. They finished their tumbling runs with high back tuck somersaults, flipping right over the first rank of Imperials, landing perfectly on their feet right behind them, and wreaking havoc with their swords on the men’s vulnerable backsides. With their speed, most of the girls were able to kill several men each before being cut down.

Meanwhile, the Amazons had moved the rest of their swordswomen to the front, with the longbow-women behind them. When the maneuver was complete, the survivors from the girls who had penetrated the male ranks quickly backflipped away.

As the two main bodies of infantry clashed, the Amazon cavalry charged. The Imperial light cavalry intercepted their Amazon counterparts, a bloody battle of arrows and thrown spears followed by hand-to-hand combat with swords and axes breaking out. Meanwhile, the Amazon heavy cavalry rode around the Imperials, preparing to attack their rear.

Roslyn gave a signal with a whistle from her full, pouty lips. A detachment of reserve infantry, shields and spears at the ready, formed up to guard the rear. Behind them, a force of crossbowmen moved into position, ready to fire over their comrades’ heads. She then rejoined her staff officers.

“Shit. Heavy cavalry to the west, light cavalry to the north, infantry to the east, and the river to the south. They’ve got us surrounded. We’re trapped!” a young officer panicked.

“Quiet, Major,” Princess Roslyn ordered him. “We’re surrounded. We’re not trapped. Spears backed with crossbows guard our western flank. Their cavalry can’t get past that. We are meant to *think* we are trapped, so we will panic. But we will not panic. Right, Major?”

“Right. Sorry, my Lady.”

From a small hill overlooking the battle, the hotheaded teenage Amazon princess in command of the female army smirked. “They’re surrounded. They must be panicking. Heavy cavalry, charge the line. They’ll turn and run. Then we can hit their main force from the rear, double envelop them, and finish them off.”

“My Princess, please,” said the middle-aged advisor. “If they *don’t* run, our girls will ride into a wall. Let’s just contain them for now and tighten the noose slowly.”

“Morwen, please,” said the Amazon Princess. “I’m in command here. They’ll run. Now give the signal to charge.”

800 Amazon heavy cavalry charged the western Imperial line. Roslyn rode over to her men. “Steady, boys. They’re trying to scare us. Don’t run.” The men, facing Amazon war horses thundering towards them, probably would have run if she hadn’t been there, but her presence was enough to bring calm and strength to them.

As the enemy riders entered crossbow range without turning away, she ordered, “Give them a volley.” A barrage of steel bolts flew towards the Amazons. A few dozen riders fell off their horses and into the desert sand. The cavalry commander wisely turned the rest of her girls away.

Meanwhile, in the main infantry battle, although both sides were taking heavy casualties, the heavy armor and large shields of the Imperials were actually doing some good. They were slowly pushing the Amazons back. “By the gods,” breathed one of Roslyn’s generals. “Could we actually win?”

Roslyn’s heart was pounding. She forced herself to remain calm, concentrating on keeping an eye on every part of the battle, not counting her chickens before they hatched.

The Amazon Princess scowled as Morwen gave her a look. “Don’t give me that ‘I told you so’ look,” she growled. “I’m going to win this battle, one way or another, and annihilate the enemy. Queen’s Guard! Forward, with me!”

The Amazon Queen’s Guard, a hand-picked elite corps of 300 ultra-lethal female warriors, the best of the best, who had each personally slain at least 50 men in combat, began advancing in perfect formation as the hotheaded princess dismounted her horse and joined them. The other Amazons parted to make way for them. Morwen sighed. She had no choice but to pray that this would work.

Roslyn raised her eyebrows as she noticed. “They’re going for the whole enchilada. They’re going to try to smash our lines. Imperial Guard! Forward, with me!”

The Imperial Guard, a hand-picked elite corps of 400 men, veterans of many wars and the best soldiers in the Imperial army, formed up and began advancing. Roslyn turned to the colonel who had survived Antonius’ foolish ambush. “Besides myself, you’re the strongest leader here. Protect our rear. Don’t let the men panic, and don’t let anything break this line. If it does, we’re doomed.” As an afterthought, she added, “No pressure,” hoping the joke would relieve the tension. It worked, as all the men laughed.

Turning serious again, Roslyn dismounted, exchanging her small round cavalry shield for a large, rectangular infantry one. She patted the sword sheathed on her hip, covered her head and face with a helmet, grabbed a spear, and hurried to catch up with the Imperial Guard, positioning herself in the front rank.

The regular Imperial infantry, who had been slowly pushing the enemy back, gasped in shock and fear when the lines of Amazons suddenly parted and 300 incredibly beautiful and muscular women were coming at them with elegant aerial cartwheels followed by whipbacks. They backflipped with lightning speed, crashing into the still-startled men and slicing, dicing, and decapitating their way through the male ranks. Now the momentum was reversed, with the female army advancing and the lucky men retreating – and the unlucky men dying.

The Amazon princess roared with laughter as she cut a man’s head off, sliced another in half, and slit the throats of two more. Men were slaughtered by the hundreds, and still none of the Amazon Queen’s Guard had suffered anything worse than a minor cut.

The regular male soldiers gladly parted to make way for the Imperial Guard. All of a sudden, Roslyn and her men were facing the Amazon Princess and her women. Two elite forces, the best of their respective armies. They stared at one another for a second.

Then they both charged, spears, swords, and shields clashing as they collided. Roslyn blocked a spear thrust with her shield and stabbed her attacker in the foot with her own spear. With a cry of pain, the Amazon’s shield dropped. Roslyn impaled her through the heart, then kicked the body off and slit another Amazon’s throat with the razor-sharp end of her spear.

A girl’s blade flashed. Roslyn moved just enough to avoid having her right arm cut off, although she still received a nasty gash on her shoulder, the pain causing her to involuntarily drop her spear. She lashed out with a kick, knocking her opponent back long enough for her to draw her sword. They battled, swords striking each other’s shields for a few seconds, until Roslyn suddenly backflip kicked the Amazon in the face, stunning her. Before she could recover, Roslyn cut off her head.

She glanced around, quickly guesstimating the dead on each side. Although the Imperial Guardsmen were much better fighters than the male regulars, she still counted two dead men for every dead woman. And her side only outnumbered the enemy 400 to 300. This wasn’t going to work. Already the men were being pushed back. If the Amazons broke through, the Imperial army would collapse.

She looked over at the Amazon Princess, who was gleefully slaughtering men left and right with incredible skill. If this had been a movie, she would have challenged her to Noble One-on-One Single Combat (TM), but this wasn’t a movie. The Amazon leader had foolishly and arrogantly not bothered to hide who she was. Roslyn, on the other hand, equipped with the same weapons and shield as her men and wearing the face mask, looked like any other soldier, though smaller. Still, none of the enemy knew who she was. If they did, she knew she would have been immediately targeted.

No, it was time to end this, once and for all. Snatching up her spear, she hurled it with perfect accuracy at the Amazon Princess. The weapon impaled her right in the throat, the tip sticking out of the back of her neck. She stood ramrod straight for a second, then collapsed. The Amazons froze in shock for just a split second. That was enough. With a high-pitched shriek, Roslyn led the Imperial Guard in a counterattack.

A piercing whistle cut across the battlefield. The surviving Queen’s Guardswomen began backflipping away like pro-gymnasts. A few of the men who had been standing too close had their necks broken by the powerful backflip kicks.

All across the battlefield, Amazons moved away in a calm and orderly retreat. “Let them go,” ordered Roslyn. “They have archers covering them, and we’ve been pounded enough.” She examined the wound on her shoulder. Nasty-looking, but not really serious. She could still swing her sword and throw her spear.

A ragged cheer went up from the bruised and battered men as the enemy disappeared into the distance. One of her generals rode up to her. “Congratulations on your victory, my Lady.”

Roslyn looked around, surveying the heaps of her dead men, including many high-ranking officers. “One more victory like this, and we are ruined,” she responded grimly.

In the fortified Imperial camp by the river, Roslyn met with her surviving senior officers in the command tent. “I have the count,” said a general. “2000 of our men are dead. 800 are wounded too badly to fight if the Amazons attack again, and another thousand are wounded but capable of combat.”

Roslyn shook her head. “One-third of our force is out of action, many of them permanently. How about the enemy?”

“We counted 1200 Amazons dead on the field. That’s all we killed, they didn’t have time to carry off their dead. We don’t know how many of them are wounded but the number will probably be lower than ours.”

“So not only do they outnumber us now, but they can get reinforcements quickly, while ours will take weeks. In addition, their foolish commander who made mistakes is dead and has in all likelihood been replaced by someone far smarter.” Roslyn wondered if she should have left the hotheaded Amazon alive, but it was only her death that had stopped the elite Amazons’ charge. It had been a no-win situation.

“Gentlemen, it’s time to face reality,” Roslyn continued. “If we fight them again, our chances of victory are very slim.”

“So what are we going to do?” asked a colonel. “Just retreat?”

“No,” said Roslyn. “If we did that, they would probably follow us. Most likely invade our territory. No, I think it’s time for a parley.”

“A parley? Those Amazons slaughtered the men from our first army who tried to surrender,” said a general. “I don’t think they’ll be very open to negotiation.”

“Not with a man. But I don’t believe they will harm a female emissary. And with that hotheaded princess dead, cooler heads should be in command now. I will send one of my female servants over to their camp with a flag of truce.”

“An enemy rider approaches! He carries a white flag,” an Amazon scout reported.

“He is a fool, then,” said a muscular female archer, reaching for an arrow.

“Wait,” said her commander. “The rider is a woman. Let’s see what she wants.”

* * *

“My Lady,” said the servant, bowing as she entered the Imperial command tent. “The enemy commander has agreed to a parley with you. Tomorrow at noon.”

“Thank you,” said Roslyn, squeezing the girl’s hand. “You were very brave. You will be rewarded for this.” She turned to her officers. “It is settled then. Tell the sentries to stay sharp. I don’t think they’ll try anything now but you never know.”

The night passed without incident, however. The next morning, the two armies formed up on the dusty desert plain, ready to fight if the negotiations went bad. The tension was thick as the forces faced each other. “Don’t let any of the men do anything stupid,” the Princess instructed her senior general.

“Yes, milady.” As she began riding away from her lines, he added, “Good luck.”

Roslyn looked at her counterpart as the two women rode towards each other. She was tall, slender, and beautiful, with long light brown hair and an elegant, high-cheekboned face. Though she was an older woman, probably in her forties, her hazel eyes still sparkled with energy.

The woman dismounted elegantly despite the long dress she was wearing. As Roslyn dismounted as well and looked into the other woman’s face, she saw a long scar running down her cheek, looking like it was from a battle many years ago.

“Princess Roslyn. I am Morwen, senior advisor to the Queen of the Amazon Nation.”

“It is good to meet you, Morwen,” said Roslyn formally.

“You may dispense with the pleasantries. I only agreed to this meeting because you are a woman in command of these men. If you have something you feel is worthy of my time, then speak it.”

Roslyn took a deep breath. Her opponent was clearly powerful and cunning. She would have to play this just right. The fate of thousands lay in her hands.

“If that is your wish, then so be it. We did not want a war with the Amazon Nation. This conflict began when one hundred of our men were slaughtered in an outpost on our own territory, without provocation.”

“Without provocation? I guess the one man our girls left alive just long enough to tell the story didn’t tell the whole truth. He didn’t tell you that those soldiers at the outpost decided to entertain themselves by sailing down the river into Amazon land and attempting to rape Amazon women. Of course that ended in the invaders being slaughtered. Then we nailed the rest of them at the outpost in retaliation.”

Roslyn stared in shock, then clenched her fists in anger. Those stupid fools, thinking with their cocks. They had gotten thousands killed. And their idiocy had placed her in a very difficult position.

“My Lady, I am sorry. I did not know. If I had known, things would have gone very differently.”

“Would they now.” Morwen’s tone showed no emotion at all.

“Yes. But at any rate, whether you believe me or not, that is in the past and cannot be undone. We must focus on the present. Many have died on both sides. Both our armies are battered. There is no need for more killing. I offer a treaty of peace.”

“Are you still under the command of your father?”

“Well, of course. He is the King…”

“The Amazon Nation does not sign treaties with men. However, I have an offer of my own. Join us. Become a general of the Amazon army. You know everything about those men. With your knowledge and our fighting skills, we will become an unstoppable force.”

“Treason?! I will not!”

“Why do you fight for a nation that regards women as inferior?”

“It is not quite so simple as that. This is my nation. This is my blood. There are many good men here. There are many men that I love. Including my father.”

“We will not treat with a land under the rule of a man. Now unless you have anything further…”

“I do.” Roslyn took out the letter from her father. “The King has named me his heir. I will become Queen.”

Morwen read the letter, appearing deep in thought. Roslyn could see the wheels turning as her counterpart went over possibilities and consequences like a chess player. Finally the Amazon said, “Under these circumstances, I can treat with you. If you can convince your father to leave the Amazon Nation alone, we can have peace. But this is contingent on you remaining heiress to the throne. If not, the treaty will become null and void.”

“Trust me,” said Roslyn. “You won’t have to worry about that happening.”

* * *

“Well?” said one of her officers excitedly. “How did it go, my Lady?”

“We have signed a treaty with the Amazons. The borders remain the same. The desert is a neutral zone. Anyone entering the desert does so at their own risk, and killings in the desert will not be considered a declaration of war. Both armies are to retreat immediately.”

The news was greeted with mixed emotions. Some of the men still wanted to fight the Amazons, but others recognized that the treaty was probably for the best, since they most likely would not have been able to defeat the female army. One loudmouthed officer shouted, “They butchered 20,000 of our men and we’re not going to take vengeance?!”

“Vengeance?” said Roslyn sharply. “Did you know that the soldiers at that outpost started this whole war by entering Amazon territory and trying to rape their women? The attack on the outpost was not unprovoked. THAT was vengeance.” The officer hung his head in shame.

As the army began preparing to move out, Roslyn thought about the offer Morwen had made. She had rejected it immediately. There was no reason for her to accept it, since her father had named her heir to the throne. But what if he had not? What if the idiotic Albert was to become king? She was willing to follow her father’s orders because he was an intelligent man. But could she have followed Albert’s? If it had come to that, Morwen’s offer would have been very tempting…

She snapped herself out of her thoughts. The Princess was sure of one thing. She was glad she wouldn’t have to make that decision. “All right, men,” Roslyn called out. “Let’s go home.”

“You surrendered to them? You coward!” spat Albert at his sister. “Daddy!” he whined. “This is why GIRLS shouldn’t be rulers! I should be king!”

“Shut the fuck up, you fool,” Roslyn snapped at her brother. “I didn’t surrender to anyone. I signed a treaty as an equal. And I saved thousands of lives. Maybe even yours.”

“Albert, calm yourself,” said King Frederick III.

“I will not! In fact, I will not accept this! Roslyn, I CHALLENGE YOU!” Albert drew his sword.

Roslyn drew her own blade. “I was hoping you’d say something like that.”

“Roslyn,” said her father. He had a tone of warning. She looked at him and read his expression. It said, “Don’t kill him. He may be an idiot but he’s still my son.” The king knew that Albert was no match for her and had no chance of winning. She smirked to herself at the thought. She nodded to her father and he nodded back.

“Well, bring it on, Fat Albert,” Roslyn taunted her opponent. The prince stared down in shame at his fat gut, wishing he had toned abs like his sister.

The fight didn’t last long. The Princess blocked her brother’s wild swing easily, popped him in the nose with her free fist, and gave him a small cut on his arm with her sword, causing him to drop his own weapon with a yelp. She then did a standing back handspring, kicking him in the jaw and sending him to the floor. Landing elegantly on her feet, she stood over him dominantly, her blade right in front of his face. “Some challenge,” she mocked him. Everyone in the room was laughing at the stupid prince.

When King Frederick III died five years later, Roslyn was crowned Queen Roslyn I. She stripped Albert of all his lands and noble titles, and forced him to live as a peasant commoner. The fat earl (remember him?) who had said that girls couldn’t fight and the loudmouthed officer (remember him?) who had wanted vengeance on the Amazons after the treaty had been signed received the same treatment.

Her reign was long and prosperous, and under her the Empire grew in size, although of course she respected the boundaries with the Amazons. No conflict occurred between the Amazons and the Empire during her rule. She fought many wars on other fronts, however, personally leading her soldiers in combat and winning stunning victories over larger enemy armies time and again.

On the domestic front, Queen Roslyn instituted an intelligent and workable policy towards sexual equality that combined real change and a genuine desire to make things better for women with respect for tradition and recognition of the realities of a medieval monarchy. The powerful trade guilds and the Imperial army became open to women, although both remained majority male.

Eventually, she married the smart colonel (remember him?) who had been the only survivor of Antonius’ doomed army. They had two sons together, and when they grew up, she declared her younger son to be her heir, as he was smarter than his older brother. He was eventually crowned King Frederick IV.

Although Frederick IV continued his mother’s policies of sexual equality, they couldn’t last forever. Only seven years into his reign, the new king was killed in battle against the barbarians of the north. His children were too young to rule directly, and the council of “advisors” that ruled in their place, after putting down a bloody coup attempt by Frederick IV’s older brother and beheading him, swiftly rolled back all the reforms that Queen Roslyn had made. Unsurprisingly, war with the Amazons erupted again. But that is a tale for another time.

Time marched on. Years, decades, centuries. Great sailing-ships were invented, along with cannons and muskets. The Empire began expanding across the sea, finding new islands to explore and conquer. The line of kings and queens continued, finally reaching King Frederick IX, father of Princess Katarina.

Katarina closed the journal. “Fascinating,” she said out loud. She loved history. Outside, the rain was still pounding her tent.

Another commotion came from outside. She opened the flap. “It’s okay. I’m still not sleeping.”

It was a Royal Messenger this time. “From your father, for your eyes only, my Lady,” he said, bowing and handing her a letter.

“Thank you,” said Katarina. She retreated back into her tent and opened the letter. She began to shake as she read it:

“My dearest Katarina,

It breaks my heart to say this, but I have decided that your brother will inherit the throne. Although you would make a far better ruler than he would, I have heard whispers of assassination should you become Queen, from evil men who do not want someone of your strength with the crown. I would much rather have you alive and not ruling than have you as a dead Queen. I know it will be tough, but in time I hope you will come to understand my decision.

Love, Father”

The Princess put her face in her hands. How could he?! She risked her life time and again in battle against REAL enemies. How could her father be more worried about POSSIBLE assassins?

Katarina remembered what she had just read, about Roslyn wondering if she would have switched sides and joined the Amazons if she had not been named heir to the throne. Well, now SHE was going to have to do more than wonder. She was going to have to make a decision…

TO BE CONTINUED…

Tales from the Amazon Wars, Episode 3

Raindrops pelted Princess Katarina’s tent in the dark night. Unable to sleep, she sat up in her lightweight but comfortable travel bed as the thunder boomed again. How was she going to defeat these Amazons?

Suddenly, she heard a commotion outside. “No one is to disturb the Princess while she is sleeping,” came the voice of one of the guards. “I don’t care if you outrank me. I wouldn’t care even if you were a four-star general. I have my orders from the Princess herself.”

Katarina opened the flap of her small tent. “It’s okay, soldier. I wasn’t sleeping anyway.” She turned her gaze to the visitor, recognizing the military historian. “Major. Do you have something for me?”

“Yes, milady,” said the major. He held up a journal, bound in leather. “I think you’ll find this very interesting.”

“Come into the tent. Let’s keep that thing out of the rain and see what we’ve got here.” Katarina’s dark brown eyes widened with fascination as she opened the journal. “Why, it’s a war diary from my ancestor, the great warrior queen, Roslyn the First! Where did you find this?”

“I was digging around in the basement archives of the library in the Colonial Capital. As soon as I found it, I rode out here as fast as I could. I knew you’d want to see it.”

“Indeed I do. This should prove to be very valuable. Thank you, Major.” As the officer bowed and exited the tent, Katarina opened the journal and turned to the first page…

Princess Roslyn was the oldest child and only daughter of King Frederick III. She had two younger brothers, twins, named Albert and Antonius. Tweedledee and Tweedledum, as many, including herself, called them behind their backs. Both were incompetent, dim-witted louts.

Because sons came before daughters, regardless of age, in the line of succession, Roslyn was only third in line for the throne. And because her brothers were twins, they were constantly competing with each other to impress their father enough to get officially picked to be his heir. This competition led to both brothers taking many foolish risks in battle and needlessly sacrificing the lives of many of their men.

When a small outpost near the southern border of the empire had been overrun and its garrison of a hundred men massacred by unknown attackers, Antonius had eagerly volunteered to lead an expedition to find and punish the mysterious assailants. Albert, who was currently away on an expedition to the north, would be so jealous when Antonius returned with a triumph to celebrate his victory, the arrogant prince thought. The king accepted his son’s offer and provided him with a massive army.

Roslyn sighed as she was forced to stay home once again. Although she was an expert archer and swordswoman, and had received the same education at the military academy that her brothers had, she had never been granted the honor of leading military expeditions to the fringes of the Empire. All of her combat knowledge had only been put to use a few times in small skirmishes with bandits and raiders. She longed for the chance to prove herself in a real battle. But her father always said that her military education was for emergencies only.

Prince Antonius rode out of the Imperial capital at the head of a huge army, cockily proclaiming that if there were any survivors from the enemy force after he was through with them, he would bring them back to the capital in cages like zoo animals. He had 15,000 heavy infantry armed with spears and large shields, plus 3000 archers armed with modern crossbows. But the pride of the army was the heavy cavalry, a force of 2000 knights. These riders were all noblemen who were constanly seeking more battles to gain more riches and glory.

The massive force moved southward, sweating in their armor under the hot sun. They moved slowly, hampered by the Prince’s insistence on taking many luxuries with him. Finally, after several weeks, they reached the outpost where the massacre had occurred. After the Prince’s servants had set up his large, luxurious tent and all his furniture, Antonius and his staff met with the commanding officer of the force that had discovered the massacre to make their battle plan.

The officer, a colonel, bowed to the Prince and his six staff officers, all generals. “My Lords. I fear we are dealing with a much more serious situation than we thought. We have examined the corpses of the men that were slaughtered. About half of them were shot with arrows. Every single shot was either straight to the heart or right between the eyes. I’ve never seen marksmanship like that. The other men were either impaled with spears, again always straight through the heart, or had their skulls split open with axes, or were chopped into many pieces with swords.”

The staff officers, all of whom were old, overweight aristocrats, gulped in fear. Prince Antonius, however, still had a cocky, arrogant look on his face as the colonel continued. “One man was still alive when we got there. He had been expertly stabbed in a way that would keep him alive for a while, but ensure that he would die eventually. He was insane with terror when we found him. The only thing he could say before he expired was, ‘They’re girls. An army of girls. Incredibly sexy girls who can outfight any man. Those girls are demonesses from hell…’ Then he died.”

The other men in the tent looked at one another doubtfully. Finally, the Prince banged his fist on the fancy, heavy oak table. “Preposterous! The idea that one hundred men of the finest Empire the world has ever seen could be massacred by a band of GIRLS is utterly ridiculous. You yourself said that this man was insane with terror. His information must be inaccurate. We’ll find out who really did this and punish them.”

“As you wish, milords,” said the colonel, aware of what fools these men were but knowing he had to obey orders. “My scouts have followed the assassins’ tracks into the desert. Far to the south, beyond where any of our explorers have ever gone, they report that the inhospitable desert turns into fertile land once again. There lies the kingdom of the enemy. If we follow the river, we can be there in three weeks.”

“Three weeks? We would waste so much time, following that meandering river. If we march straight south, we can be in the enemy’s territory in ten days. We’ll just fill our water kegs here,” said Antonius.

“My lord, I would advise having a continuous supply of water handy. You never know what might happen. Also, if we follow the river we can use it to protect one of our flanks.”

“That’s enough, Colonel. I am in command here, and what I say goes. We march straight south through the desert. Tell the men to get busy filling those water kegs. We leave tomorrow at first light.”

“Yes, my lord.” The colonel sighed, hoping that the prince’s arrogance wouldn’t lead the army to doom.

The attacks began on the third day. One moment, the massive column of soldiers was marching along in complete peace. The next, fifteen men dropped dead, arrows sticking out of their throats, chests, or heads.

The others looked around in shock. There was nothing but a faint cloud of dust on the horizon. Some of the crossbowmen fired bolts uselessly into the distance, wasting precious ammunition. A squadron of knights rode off to investigate, returning to report only that the enemy consisted of light horsemen…or horsewomen … who could easily outride them.

From that point on, the attacks continued, the only change being that they grew in size and frequency. The second strike came from the other side. This time, twenty-five men were shot dead with perfectly aimed arrows. After surveying the corpses with a curse, the Prince ordered the crossbowmen to prepare for an archery duel.

They didn’t have to wait long. An hour later came the third raid, from both sides this time. The crossbowmen began shooting back, but there was nothing to shoot at but clouds of dust. The mysterious attackers would ride into range, expertly fire their bows just as they were turning, and vanish before the crossbowmen could acquire their targets.

“I thought our bows had a longer range than any other in the world,” grumbled one soldier as he reloaded his weapon. “Maybe they do, but those riders are so fast they can dart in and out of range before we can h…ugh!” The man who responded was shot in the chest as he was speaking. The arrow penetrated his armor and drove straight into his heart. He was dead before he hit the ground. When the attack was over, forty more male soldiers were dead. The crossbowmen had fired many bolts and hadn’t been able to hit a thing.

Prince Antonius ordered a dozen of his servants to go out and retrieve the bolts. A few minutes later, a solitary servant returned, empty-handed. “I’m sorry, my lord,” he reported. “They hit us while we were trying to collect them. We had to flee. I’m the only survivor.”

“Not for long, coward!” snarled the Prince, drawing his sword and decapitating the servant. It was the only kill any of the male soldiers made that day.

The mood when the army made camp for the night was one of fear and dread. Things only got worse the next morning, when it was discovered that a hundred men had had their throats slit in the darkness by mysterious attackers who had snuck in and out right under the noses of the sentries. The killing wasn’t over yet, however, because Antonius ordered that the surviving sentries, a total of 200 men, all be executed for their failure. The executioners, though reluctant to kill their own men, were worried that they would become the next targets if they refused to obey their prince’s orders. After the sentries had been decapitated and their heads placed on pikes, per Antonius’ wishes, the army set off again.

It wasn’t long before the first attack of the day came, arrows whizzing through the air and embedding themselves in male flesh. This time, Prince Antonius ordered the knights to respond in force, two columns of a hundred riders each. Two hundred proud, heavily armored noblemen rode out into the desert. None of them ever returned. In addition, sixty more men were shot dead in the main column. The vast army still hadn’t managed to kill a single enemy. The Prince screamed and stamped his feet, having a tantrum like a little baby.

When the next ambush came, it was deja vu for the men…or so they thought. Enemy arrows came flying in, the crossbowmen shot back uselessly, and then, in a flash, it was over. “How many hit?” came the call.

There were murmurs and whispers, then the response. “Looks like none, sir.”

“None? But…”

Suddenly, a soldier pointed to a water keg, pierced with an arrow. The powerful shot had cracked the wooden barrel and all the water was long gone and rapidly sinking into the desert sand. The men looked around in panic. Every other keg was in the same condition.

“NOOOOOOO!” roared the Prince. “COWARDS! Come out and fight me like a man!”

“I don’t think they are men, sir,” said one of his staff officers, holding one of the Empire’s new inventions, a spyglass. “The figures on the horses looked like girls to me.”

“Girls?!” Antonius sputtered. “How could mere girls…ugghhh…”

The colonel who had found the men massacred at the outpost rode up. “Beg pardon, sirs, but we should focus on the big issue right now. Our water supply.”

The Prince was still in tantrum mode. “We’ll charge right at them, slaughter them, and drink their blood!”

“My lord, please. We’re six days from enemy territory and the only water we have left is the tiny amount in our canteens. We’d never make it. We’re four days’ march from our territory, and few if any can survive four days in the desert without water. Our only option is to head for the river. We can get there in two days, rest and recover, then follow the river to enemy territory and make our attack.”

The Prince, by now a broken man, wanted to scream at his subordinate and tell him off, but even he knew that the colonel was right. “Fine. Make it so,” he sighed.

But they never made it. As the army changed course and made for the river, horsewomen began following them, staying just outside of crossbow range. The men gulped the last of their water in their canteens and desperately but uselessly quickened their pace. The number of hoofbeats behind them increased.

“Why aren’t they attacking?” wondered a young junior officer.

“They know the river is our only option. They know exactly where we’re going. They can wait for the right moment,” his superior responded. Everyone within earshot gulped upon hearing that.

It was early afternoon when the final attack came. One second, there was uneasy silence. The next, there came a spine-chilling, high-pitched, distinctively female warrior cry in the distance. Then came the arrows, this time over a thousand of them fired at once, all aimed at the crossbowmen. Lightly armored and with no shields, they stood no chance. Over a quarter of the crossbowmen were killed by the first enemy volley. Many others were wounded, in agony from hits to the leg, arm, stomach, or groin, and unable to fight back. Those who could shoot back fired their bolts ineffectively at the distant female figures darting back and forth on their ponies. Then it was time to begin the agonizingly slow process of reloading.

The Empire’s warfare doctrine emphasized heavy infantry, heavy cavalry, and responses designed to counter enemies who emphasized the same. The archers were currently armed with the Mark VI model crossbows, which, although very powerful and capable of piercing the heavy plate armor worn by knights, were also very slow to fire, taking close to thirty seconds to reload. Though the Mark VII crossbow, which could fire twice as fast while being only slightly less powerful, was available, Prince Antonius had elected to stick with the Mark VIs under the mantra of “more power.”

The Amazon horse archers, on the other hand, used compact but powerful bows that were small enough for mounted troops to use, powerful enough to penetrate almost any armor, and capable of rapid fire. Trained in markswomanship from the day she was old enough to ride and hold a bow, a girl-archer could defeat even the most heavily armored opponent by aiming for the weak points in his armor, then finishing him off with her hand-to-hand combat weapons, generally axes or short swords, if necessary.

Each female horse archer could fire a dozen arrows per minute, and three more devastating volleys finished off the rest of the crossbowmen before they could finish reloading. In less than twenty seconds 3000 of the Empire’s best-trained, well-equipped male bowmen lay dead or dying on the hot desert sand, slaughtered by girls, most of whom had not yet seen twenty winters.

The beautiful Amazon princess, just eighteen years old, in command of this force, 1200 horse archers and 800 heavy cavalry, tiny compared to the vast Imperial army, laughed at the carnage her girls had just inflicted. She had been sent out with her little force with orders from her Queen to harass, delay, and weaken the enemy. But after seeing the vulnerability of these males and the incompetence and arrogance of their commander, she had decided to launch a full-scale attack to annihilate them.

With a coy giggle, she ordered her archers to fire into the main body of enemy infantry. A volley of arrows came flying, dropping several hundred men to the dirt. “Infantry into turtle formation!” ordered the Prince. “Knights, charge those bitches and run them through!” The Imperial infantry moved into their turtle formation, shields covering all sides and the tops of their heads. Hundreds more men died before the maneuver could be completed, but the remainder now seemed relatively safe, though occasional cries of pain came from men hit in an exposed arm here or an exposed leg there.

Prince Antonius, cowering in the center of the formation along with his six staff officers, finally thought he had things under control. His knights, heavily armored and armed with lances, would ride right into the lightly armored horsewomen and end this humiliating barrage of arrows striking the shields like rain.

But it was not to be. As the 1800 knights charged the female horse archers, they turned their attention to the new attackers. Though the arrows could not penetrate the thick chest plating the men wore, the Amazons, with their expert markswomanship, fired into the joints and other weak points of the suits of armor, piercing knights in their armpits, hips, and groins. Men fell off their horses with cries of agony, stopping the momentum of the charge. Some girls were such good shots that they could hit their opponents in the eye-slits of their face masks, killing them instantly.

“Rally to me!” cried a high-ranking nobleman, gathering the unwounded riders and preparing another charge. “AAAAHHHHHHHH!”

Suddenly, hoofbeats thundered from the left. The 800 Amazon heavy cavalry were charging them, lances lowered, from the males’ vulnerable side. The Imperials were unable to turn in time to counter this new threat and were brutally ridden into, female lances utterly impaling and penetrating them. The Amazons then rode into – or onto – the wounded knights on the ground, simply trampling them to death, laughing as their victims begged for mercy. Knights were used to being captured and ransomed in battle instead of being killed, but the Amazons were not interested in gold. They were interested in slaughter.

One of the infantrymen on the edge of the turtle formation thought he heard hoofbeats. He peeked out from behind his shield, thinking the allied knights were returning after a job well done. The rain of arrows had stopped, after all. But instead, the last thing he saw before he died was a beautiful brown-skinned woman leading several hundred others in a heavy cavalry charge. A second later, the girl’s lance popped his skull open like a smashed watermelon.

The turtle formation, effective against enemy archers, left the men using it vulnerable to heavy cavalry attacks. With brutal efficiency, the 800 female riders lanced, sliced, axed, decapitated, and trampled everything in their path, riding right through the formation and dividing it in two. Over two thousand men were killed.

“SHIT! Prepare to receive cavalry charge!” shouted the Prince as the Amazons turned around and re-formed their line. The men formed up as well, spears ready to impale any horse that dared charge into them. But instead, the horse archers began firing again, dropping hundreds more men dead as arrows rained down from above onto their now exposed skulls.

“FUCK! What can we do?!” moaned one of the staff officers. “Those cunts have an answer for everything!”

“Hold!” roared the Prince. “Arrows run out! They can’t keep shooting at us forever!”

But just then, a sqaudron of girls rode up to the horse archers. They began handing them packages from their heavily laden animals. Though it was too far to see, the men knew what was in them. Arrows. Thousands and thousands more arrows.

As the incessant rain of lethal projectiles continued, the survivors, without waiting for orders, re-formed the turtle. And sure enough, the Amazon heavy cavalry came crashing into them again, slaughtering thousands more men.

The sun sank lower in the western sky. The Imperial soldiers who were still alive knew that it was the last time they would ever see it. Command broke down completely, with the Prince and his generals simply crying and whimpering, unable to issue any orders. The slaughter was methodical and efficient, alternating between arrows and lances. Hour after hour passed and the killing went on. Finally, the sun reached the horizon and turned blood red, matching the new color of the desert sand.

The smart colonel, the only man of high rank in this force who had any sense, lay in the middle of a pile of male corpses, an arrow sticking out from his chest. He opened his eyes and looked around. It was dark now. In the distance, he could see the torches of the Amazons and hear the pleas for mercy from wounded men as the girls finished them off, but around him, all was quiet. Everyone else was dead. Some of the soldiers had been finished execution style with arrows right between the eyes or good old-fashioned decapiations. He removed the arrow that he had broken and attached to himself with a wad of chewing gum, another of the Empire’s recent inventions, to make it look like he had already been shot. Then he began crawling away.

The Imperial scout peered through his spyglass again, wanting to confirm the strange sight. A man was floating down the river towards him on a piece of wood. Bruised, battered, and sunburned, he wore the tattered remnants of an Imperial uniform. “Colonel? Is that you?” asked the stunned scout as he recognized the officer.

“Yes. It is I. Alive, though not by much,” said the colonel as he beached himself on shore. “Gather the men. I have urgent news about the…let’s say the Amazons.”

Princess Roslyn and her father, King Frederick III, were having dinner in the palace dining room when the door suddenly burst open and a messenger entered. The King raised an eyebrow. “I’m going to assume this is important from the manner of your entrance.”

“Yes, my lord. I’m sorry. But it is important.” He handed Frederick a letter. The king paled as he read it, dropping the turkey leg he had been eating.

“Roslyn, come with me. I’m calling a council of war. Right now.”

“I cannot believe it. Twenty thousand of His Majesty’s finest soldiers, completely and utterly annihilated by a force but one-tenth of its size?” said a duke.

“Believe it, sir. I was there, and I’m the only survivor,” said the colonel who had made it through so much.

“The size of the enemy force is hard enough to believe, but an army of mere GIRLS?!” a fat earl grumbled. “Preposterous!”

Roslyn felt her blood becoming hot. “Perhaps you would like to see a demonstration of what a girl can do in combat.”

As the earl opened his mouth to make an angry retort, King Frederick spoke up. “Enough!” he shouted. “I called this council to plan a way to defeat the enemy, not engage in fighting amongst ourselves. Earl, you will show respect to my daughter. Roslyn, you will control your temper. Now, Colonel, do you think these…Amazons will attempt a full-scale invasion of our territory?”

“They already attacked one of our outposts without provocation and after exterminating a huge army of ours so easily, I fear it is very likely that they will feel arrogant and aggressive enough to do it, my lord.”

“Then we must raise what forces we can as fast as possible. Roslyn, you will be in command.”

Roslyn felt both excitment and apprehension. It was what she had always wanted – but against such an unknown and lethal opponent? She truly would be put to the test.

Princess Roslyn sat on her horse, reviewing her army as it prepared to march out of the Imperial capital. This time, there were no shouts of jubilation or dreams of glory, just a cold sense of duty.

The army was much smaller this time – there just weren’t enough men who could be pulled off of other duties to create a force as massive as the last one. The impact of Antonius’ defeat had been devastating – one-sixth of the Empire’s military had been wiped out in a single battle. Roslyn had 6000 heavy infantry along with 1500 crossbowmen, armed with the new, faster firing Mark VII bows at her insistence. Only a few knights had the courage to go up against an enemy that preferred extermination to ransoming, and because of the power of the nobility, the king couldn’t force them to go. Just as well, thought the princess. She had no use for cowards in her army. The bulk of the cavalry would be provided by 1500 light horsemen, armed with a variety of swords, spears, axes, and bows.

Many of the male nobles had grumbled at the idea of a woman leading an army into battle, but none of them had the balls to do it themselves after the Prince’s epic fail. And her other brother, Albert, was still off in the north, thank the gods. She knew that he was as dumb as his twin, and only would have led a second army to its doom.

They moved much faster than the first force had, Roslyn knowing well just how quickly she could march her men without tiring them too much to deal with a potential ambush. It also helped that she was a low-maintenance young woman who, although she enjoyed the luxuries at the palace, was perfectly capable of traveling light in the field.

The sun rose on the Imperial camp as the army, now at the southern border of the Empire, prepared to move out to meet its destiny. As the men formed up, the Princess looked into their frightened eyes and began a quick, impromptu speech.

“Soldiers of the Empire! For a thousand years we have been the most powerful force on this continent. Through the strength of our soldiers and the innovations of our scientists we have defeated all those who sought to destroy us. Will that streak be broken on your watch?”

“NO!” came the answering roar of thousands of voices.

Roslyn raised her tanned and toned right arm, decorated with many bracelets. She loved dressing feminine, and since she had to dress like a man for battle, the bracelets at least added some femininity to her outfit. “Then let us advance! Now, this kind of goes without saying, but we follow the river this time.”

As the men laughed, she turned to the colonel who had survived the massacre, who was riding next to her. “If anything should happen to me, you are to listen to this man and do what he advises, even if you outrank him. Is that clear?” She looked at her generals in turn, receiving an affirmative salute from each. She nodded and smiled.

A band of scouts rode up. Their leader approached her, bowing. “Any sign of them?” she asked.

“None, milady. It’s as if they’ve vanished into thin air.”

This time, the attacks began on the fourth day. A humming sound broke the monotony and stillness of the desert heat. A second later, a dozen men dropped dead with arrows in their chests or faces.

Even as the bodies were still falling, Roslyn was shouting orders. “Cavalry, split up and pursue! Try to cut them off! Crossbowmen, be ready to fire, but DO NOT shoot without a confirmed target!”

The army waited, tense, as the riders disappeared into the distance. Finally, the sound of hoofbeats returned. The crossbowmen readied their weapons, but thanks to the princess’ instructions refrained from being trigger-happy. It was a good thing, as the riders were their own men.

“Report, Captain,” said Roslyn as the soldiers rode up to her.

“We split up and managed to cut four enemies off and trap them between two of our forces, Princess.” She nodded. Light cavalry was needed to catch other light cavalry. Her dim-witted brother had brought no light horsemen, only heavily armored knights who had been far too slow to catch the Amazon horse archers. “Anyway,” continued the captain, “they fought to the death, killed five of my men and wounded four more, but we finished them off. And we acquired four of these.” He held up a bow.

Roslyn took the weapon and examined it with fascination. It was incredibly light, lighter than the small bows her own cavalry used. Yet it could fire from such a long range, much further than the Imperial cavalry bows and almost as far as the much heavier, slower firing crossbows, which were too big for mounted troops to use.

“Put two of them in the wagons, one in the front of the column and one in the rear. At least one must make it back to the Empire for our innovators to reverse engineer and eventually mass produce. Give the other two to your two best marksmen.”

“Yes, milady.”

“And for the record, just so everyone can hear and all these doubts can be put to rest once and for all. They WERE girls, correct?”

“Yes. Four young female warriors. I’ve never seen women fight that well. Except you, Princess.”

She giggled. “Thank you. Now let’s move on. Everybody keep a sharp eye out.”

The next time, the Amazons attempted an attack from across the river. Horsewomen fired a volley of arrows, but they fell short into the water. “Crossbowmen ready! Pick your targets!” ordered Roslyn as the female riders urged their horses into the river, trying to get closer.

A group of crossbowmen fired their bolts. Most of them missed, as the weapons were at the limit of their range, but two women fell off their horses and into the water. The others quickly retreated.

A loud cheer rose from the men. “Victory! We drove them off! For glory! For the King! For…”

“Uh…guys?” said Roslyn. Everyone stopped shouting and looked at her.

“Perspective, gentlemen. Keep it in perspective. Yes, we drove them off, but we only killed two of them. This can’t even be called a skirmish, much less a battle. Good job, but let’s keep going, you know?”

The men nodded. In truth, Roslyn wanted to jump up and down and join in the celebration, but she knew the dangers that overconfidence would bring. Still, it was an important victory. There were no more attacks from across the river.

The hit-and-run ambushes continued from the other side, but with cavalry patrols able to concentrate on guarding one flank, their effectiveness was limited. Ten more Imperial soldiers were shot dead, but seven Amazons died as well, and the cavalrymen managed to capture three more Amazon bows. When they made camp for the night, the mood was decidedly different than it had been when they had set out. There was still a lot of apprehension, but the fact that they had been able to hold their own gave the soldiers a much needed morale boost.

As she watched the sun sink beneath the western horizon, Princess Roslyn ordered the sentries on double duty. “They’re going to try something before the sun comes up, mark my words.” In her small but comfortable tent, the princess read a book by lamplight until she drifted off to sleep.

She awoke with a start some hours later. Popping open the tent flap, she judged it was around midnight from the position of the stars. The moon was full, giving a ghostly illumination to the vast desert. Everything was peaceful. Too peaceful. She had a gut feeling that something was about to happen.

She began checking on the sentries, who all reported the same thing. Nothing. “With the moon this bright, we’d see them coming a mile away,” said one soldier.

Roslyn nodded. There was truth to that. She turned her gaze to the river…

The river! She tapped the man who had spoken on the shoulder. “Every second man is to follow me!” she whispered. “If they come, they’ll be swimming the river. We need to reinforce that side.” She darted into a supply tent, grabbed a Mark VII crossbow and a quiver of bolts, and tucked a small axe into her belt. Her sword was sheathed on her hip. “Now let’s go,” she whispered, loading a bolt as she spoke.

But before she and the reinforcements were halfway across the camp, she saw female heads rise like spectres from the surface of the water. As if it were a nightmare, muscular female arms drew back the strings on bows. The sound of expertly aimed arrows driving into their male targets, silently slaying an entire row of sentries on the river side of camp, reminded her that this nightmare was all too real.

“ALARM! ALARM! WE’RE UNDER ATTACK!” she screamed. Even as she shouted, she fired, her crossbow bolt nailing an Amazon right between the eyes.

Bells clanged and war horns blew as soldiers raced into action. The sentries she had alerted managed to shoot down several Amazons with their crossbows, but then the others were slashing into tents with their swords, intermingling with the men and making it too dangerous for the sentries to fire without hitting their own side.

Some men woke up at the alarm, only to be met with a blade straight through the heart at the hands of a brown-skinned woman. Others stumbled sleepily out of their tents, right in front of waiting Amazons who shot them down or simply decapitated them.

“Keep the other sides manned! They might have forces waiting while we’re distracted!” Roslyn shouted as she finished reloading her crossbow. She popped out from behind the boulder she had used as cover and came almost face-to-face with a bow-wielding Amazon. The Princess was faster and shot her opponent straight through the heart. Roslyn then drew her sword in her right hand and her axe in her left. As she stepped around the corner of a tent, two enemies charged her. She brained one with her axe and decapitated the other with her sword.

Screams came from a large tent. Leaping inside, she saw a trail of bloody male corpses. Near the back, two Amazon girls, each with a long dagger in each hand, were slowly pushing back the survivors, who couldn’t match the female warriors’ speed and skill.

She hurled her axe and was rewarded with a satisfying THWACK as the weapon buried itself in the back of one of the girls’ skulls. The other Amazon whirled, throwing one of her daggers as she turned. Roslyn just managed to block it with her sword.

The Amazon let out a shrill scream and tumbled towards her with a roundoff followed by a series of ultra-fast one-handed back handsprings. Roslyn stepped to the side and attacked with her sword, but the Amazon dodged with a full twisting layout and landed perfectly on her feet. With a superhumanly fast kick to Roslyn’s arm that sent her sword flying, the Princess suddenly found herself unarmed.

The Amazon drove her dagger straight at Roslyn’s throat. She barely managed to block it, receiving a cut on her right forearm. Her opponent drew the dagger back again, but the Princess suddenly kicked her in the face, breaking her jaw and stunning her. Roslyn then cartwheel kicked her, knocking her down. She stomped down hard on the Amazon’s throat with her military boot, crushing her enemy’s windpipe.

Roslyn let out a sigh of relief. “You guys okay?” she called out to the men in the back of the tent.

“Yes, milady. Thank you for saving us. How about you? You’re hurt.”

She touched the wound. “It’s just a scratch. Now come on and join the fight.”

As she led the men outside, a shrill whistle echoed through the night. The surviving Amazons began backflipping away like pro gymnasts, with incredible grace, elegance, and speed. The men fired their crossbows at them, but thanks to their blazing fast tumbling most of the shots missed. In less than a minute all was quiet again.

“I have the count,” an officer reported, when all the bodies had been lined up. “77 of our men are dead, and there are 24 dead Amazons. We also have a few dozen men wounded too badly to fight who will have to be transported in the wagons.”

Roslyn cursed. “I should have known better. I should have had the river side guarded more heavily from the start.”

“Don’t blame yourself, milady,” said the officer. “Without your warning, hundreds of men would have died.”

The Princess nodded, but she knew she would have to take responsibility for this one. She hadn’t ordered the camp guarded as well as it should have been. But the lessons she learned that night would go on to serve her very well in her long military career.

She looked up at the stars, then out over the vast desert. The Amazons were still out there. Waiting. So far, she had just been sampling a few appetizers. The main course was yet to come.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Chase Me Faster

“You’re all set!” said the salesman. “The cabin is yours for a week. Enjoy your vacation, Miss…” He looked at Rania’s last name written on the paper, not sure how to pronounce it.

“Just call me Rania,” she said with a smile in her slight Lebanese accent.

He smiled back. She was quite hot. She had a slender and athletic body, standing at 5’8″ and 125 pounds. Her eyes and long hair were both dark brown, and her skin was nicely tanned. Her small, firm breasts looked like 34B’s and she wasn’t wearing a bra. “Enjoy your vacation, Rania.”

“Thank you,” she replied, taking the key he held out to her. She picked up her backpack and headed out to her car.

Rania was a 19-year-old college sophomore. As she drove out to the cabin, she thought about how much she needed this break. A few weeks ago, her sister had been murdered by a man with diplomatic immunity. She had gone through many days of rage and agony before finally being able to team up with three other lethal women and going on a mission to kill the murderer and avenge her sister’s death.

She now had peace in her dreams, but when she had returned to college she had discovered that the contrast between being a female commando/assassin and sitting in a lecture hall was just too great. But perhaps a vacation, she had decided, would help her settle back into her regular life. She had rented an isolated cabin for a week, many miles away from civilization. It would be perfect, she had thought.

After an hour of driving, the road, which had changed from paved to dirt long ago, ended in a pile of loose rock. Rania parked her car and put on her backpack. It would be a four-mile hike from here to the cabin. Just her, all alone, for a week. Or so she thought…

U.S. Department of State Agent Bender sat at his desk, smoking a cigar. The corrupt agent grinned as he read the email offering him a large sum of money in exchange for allowing a terrorist group to smuggle weapons into the United States. This kind of deal was very familiar to him. He typed a quick reply agreeing to the deal and had just clicked ‘Send’ when the door to his office opened and his aide, Tim, entered, carrying a piece of paper.

“You’re supposed to knock,” said Bender.

“Sorry, boss, but I think you’ll be really excited to see this,” Tim replied, handing him the paper.

As he read it, his eyes indeed widened in excitement. Bender had been the agent who had protected the murderer who had killed Rania’s sister from having any chance of being stripped of his diplomatic immunity. He had done it partly out of greed, as he had been paid a large sum for that, but also because he had a domineering mother and an ex-wife who made more money than he did. He was jealous and resentful towards strong women and in his mind, helping people with reactionary, Stone Age views towards women, such as Islamic extremists, made perfect sense.

When Rania had come to meet with him, Bender had sassed her and treated her disrespectfully. He thought he had won, but when the murderer (and a large army of his henchmen) had mysteriously turned up dead, he knew she had been responsible and became enraged. To him, it was a slap in the face, an insult to his manhood, and he couldn’t let that stand. He wanted revenge on her, and waited for his opportunity. Now, it seemed to be literally within his grasp, as he read the paper again. “So she’s going to be all alone at that isolated cabin for a whole week? No witnesses, no help, out in the woods where ‘accidents’ can happen very easily?” Bender grinned evilly and looked at his aide. “You know what to do. Get a team together.”

“Yes, boss,” said Tim, taking out his cell phone as he left the office.

Rania smiled as the cabin appeared in the distance. The four-mile, mostly uphill hike was a little tiring even for someone with her fit, muscular body. She unlocked the door, tossed her backpack on a table, and looked around. The cabin was small and cozy, with a bedroom, bathroom, and combination living/dining room. A stove was at the far end of the dining area. The living area was decorated with a painting of a waterfall on one wall and a large moose head over the fireplace.

She quickly unpacked the few things she had brought. A low-maintenance, tomboyish girl, Rania liked to travel light. When she was finished, her attention was drawn to a large trunk in one corner. Curious, she opened it and found a longbow and a quiver of arrows. “Hunters must use this place sometimes,” she thought. She picked up the bow and tested it. It had a heavy draw weight, but thanks to her slim but strong arms she was able to handle it without trouble. “Maybe I’ll play around with this sometime,” she thought. Rania had taken archery lessons when she was a younger girl and had done quite well.

The dingy, smoky bar was a popular hangout for mercenary types and general thugs and buffoons. Tim sat at a table with six rough-looking mercenaries. He handed Zeke, their leader, a large envelope. “Here’s the advance payment,” he said. “$50,000. You’ll also find maps and all the other information you need in there. You’ll get the other $200,000 when the job’s done. Oh, and the boss asked me to tell you that if you want to have some fun with the target before you finish her, he strongly encourages it. When you see her picture in there, I’m sure you’ll like the idea.”

The mercenary leader grinned evilly. “Well, ol’ Zeke always likes to have fun with his chow before eatin’ it, don’t he, boys?” he chuckled. Loud laughter came from the group. “Don’t worry, we’ll get her done, and get her done right.”

The black SUV pulled up to the end of the road and the six mercenaries got out. One of them looked at Rania’s bright red sedan. “Nice ride,” he said. “Who wants to roshambo to see who gets it after we kill her?”

“We can talk about that later, Ormsby,” said Zeke. “Right now, we have a job to do.” The thugs readied their weapons. Three carried Uzi submachine guns, and two had M-16 assault rifles. Zeke had a 12-gauge shotgun and a .45 pistol. They headed up the trail towards Rania’s cabin.

Rania was hiking in the woods, at peace and not yet aware of the danger that was targeting her. Suddenly, she heard heavy footsteps and deep voices off in the distance. Her sixth sense caused the hair on the back of her neck to stand up. She hid behind a tree and peered through the greenery.

She saw six men in camoflauge clothing, slowly coming closer. At first she thought they were hunters, but then she noticed what kind of weapons they were carrying. Assault rifles and submachine guns, things that no legitimate hunter would carry. A chill ran down her spine. These men were coming to murder someone, and the only someone here was HER.

She thought about what to do. The men were between her and the road, and there was nothing but wilderness in every other direction. But the men had no idea she had seen them. They would go straight to the cabin. If she just circled around and headed for the road through the forest, she could escape. It would be a difficult trek off the trail, but she had a compass. She could get to her car. She would be safe.

Rania moved back through the woods silently. She had enough of a head start to get back to the cabin, grab essential supplies, and hide in the trees before the men got there. She hurried inside the cabin and grabbed food and water. The compass was already in her pocket. She then went over to the chest and took out the bow and arrows. She was glad someone had left them here. If worse came to worse, she wouldn’t be helpless.

Scurrying out the back door, Rania darted into the woods. She made good progress despite the thick trees, checking the compass periodically to make sure she was heading towards the road. The sound of voices and footsteps drifted to her again. She stopped to look and saw the men marching towards the cabin, guns slung over their shoulders. She turned in the direction of the road again, then paused, staring at their guns. The men were about 200 yards away. And three of them had submachine guns and one had a shotgun – weapons that were ineffective at that distance. But her longbow wasn’t.

A wave of anger began building up inside her. These men were coming to murder her, and if she ran away, they would probably get away. She didn’t want to let that happen. She wanted to kill them, but not before finding out who hired them. She was sure it had something to do with her killing the diplomat who had murdered her sister. “I’m tired of running,” she thought to herself.

But did she really want to do this? “Safety,” came the voice of caution inside her. “Protect yourself. Run away. You can get to your car. You can escape.”

“No,” said Rania, covering her mouth when she realized she had spoken out loud. She looked at the men. They hadn’t heard a thing. “No,” she thought. “Not escape. Vengeance.” She took out her bow and inserted an arrow.

She took aim at the man at the back and let the arrow fly. It whizzed through the air…and embedded itself in a tree trunk one foot away from him. “Fuck,” she thought to herself. “Dammit, Rania, you’re out of practice. You’re not as good as you once were.” She thought she was in deep shit now. Maybe she should have run away. But…

Collins, one of the mercenaries, paused. “What was that whizzing sound?”

“Must have been a wasp buzzing by,” said Ormsby. “Damn woods are crawling with those things.”

“Come on, time’s a-wasting,” said Zeke. “Let’s keep moving, men.”

As the men moved on, Rania sighed in relief. She drew another arrow and aimed at the same man. She knew she had shot slightly to the left the first time and adjusted her aim accordingly. This time, the arrow sailed through the air and drove itself with cruel force right into the center of his back. The power of the longbow sent the arrow right through the body armor he was wearing and straight into his heart. His corpse slumped to the ground.

The heavy boots the men were wearing made loud crunching sounds as they walked through the fallen leaves. None of the five remaining men heard their comrade fall. Rania smiled grimly at her luck. Inserting another arrow, she fired at the next man. Again an arrow drove right through body armor and into soft male flesh. The mercenary fell, but just before he died, he let out a faint cry of pain.

Collins, who was walking just ahead of him, whirled around. His eyes widened in shock as he saw two of his comrades dead on the forest floor. His shout echoed through the woods like a trumpet. “WE’RE UNDER ATTACK!!” All four mercenaries whipped out their guns and began shooting wildly.

“FUCK!” cursed Rania. One of the survivors had a rifle. As his weapon had the longest range, Rania fired her next shot at him. The arrow slammed into his thigh and the man fell, screaming in pain and dropping his weapon.

Ormsby realized the futility of using his Uzi at that range. He dropped it, picked up the wounded man’s assault rifle, and began shooting. Collins picked up the second M-16 from beside one of the dead men and began firing as well. Outgunned, Rania had no choice but to retreat. She darted off in the direction of the road, swearing loudly at every tree in her way.

“After her!” bellowed Zeke. “We have to stop her before she gets to the cars!”

“Reddington’s hit,” said Collins, bending over the wounded man. “He can’t move. I’ll stay here with him and…”

“No,” said Zeke. “We need maximum firepower concentrated on her. I don’t want to take chances with just two on one.”

“We can’t just leave him here,” Collins argued. “He’s losing a lot of blood. We have a real serious problem…”

Zeke drew his pistol and executed Reddington with a shot to the head. “Problem solved. Now let’s fucking MOVE.” He raced after Rania, Ormsby right on his heels. Collins stared at Reddington’s corpse for a second, then ran after the other two, shaking his head.

Rania ran through the woods as fast as she could, compass in one hand and longbow in the other. She could hear heavy footsteps pounding behind her. Occasionally, a burst of gunfire would rip through the leaves. She rounded a large tree…and suddenly came face-to-face with Zeke and his shotgun, which was aimed right at her head.

“Uh-oh,” said Rania.

Ormsby and Collins came up from behind, each aiming an M-16 at Rania’s slender back.

Zeke smirked evilly. She was even hotter than her picture had indicated. He was going to enjoy raping her before he killed her.

“I don’t suppose we can talk about this?” offered Rania in a small voice.

Zeke’s response was to whack her in the face with his gun. She cried out in pain. She raised her right hand to touch her bleeding face and flipped Zeke off with the middle finger of her left.

Zeke sneered. “You’d better watch the attitude, girlie. We have all the guns here.”

“Yeah,” said Ormsby. “Now drop that bow of yours.” Having no choice, she let her weapon drop.

“Now drop your pants, bitch,” snickered Zeke.

“WHAT?!” growled Rania.

“We’re going to gang-rape you, you hot little Lebanese cunt,” said Zeke, laughing loudly. “You have such a fit and slim body, I bet your pussy is real tight. I’m boss, I get first fuck.”

Ormsby turned to Collins. “I’ll roshambo you to see who gets second fuck.” He held out his hand to do rock-paper-scissors.

Collins had steadily been growing more and more outraged at the actions of his comrades. He had become a mercenary because he expected to be shooting bad men. He hadn’t signed up for executing his own side or raping a teenage girl.

“Roshambo this,” he snapped. With that, he kicked Ormsby right in the groin. Ormsby fell to the ground, clutching his wounded family jewels. Collins then began aiming his assault rifle at Zeke, but the mercenary leader was faster. Zeke blasted Collins with his shotgun. Collins dropped dead to the ground, a gaping hole in his head.

Rania moved with lightning speed. She tackled Zeke before he could aim at her. Her training and athleticism allowed 125-pound Rania to take down 200-pound Zeke. His shotgun went flying as the Middle Eastern beauty landed on top of him. Her fist shot out and nailed his jaw with a vicious punch, stunning him.

Ormsby, still on the ground, reached for his rifle. Rania snatched Zeke’s .45 out of his holster and shot Ormsby twice in the chest. Ormsby cried out in pain, but continued to move towards his M-16. Rania realized he was wearing body armor under his camoflauge clothing. Her arrows must have gone right through the armor of the men she had killed earlier.

Rania began aiming the pistol at Ormsby’s head, but suddenly Zeke punched her in the face. With a curse, she involuntarily dropped the gun, which bounced away down a slope. Zeke rolled his heavy body on top of Rania’s petite one. “Just where I like to be, on top of a pretty woman,” he sneered. His breath reeked of tobacco. He punched her again, his big fist smashing into Rania’s right eye, turning it black. Meanwhile, Ormsby, groin-hurt and crawling, had almost reached his assault rifle.

Rania was not going to go down quietly. She headbutted Zeke, hard, then thrust her body upwards, throwing him off of her. She swiftly kipped up to her feet. Zeke growled, but she shut him up with a kick to his head.

Ormsby had reached his rifle. Picking it up, he began aiming at Rania. She saw the danger and threw her athletic body into a dazzling sideways aerial cartwheel. Several bullets flew safely between her wide-spread legs as she was upside down. Rania landed elegantly and picked up Zeke’s shotgun. She aimed at Ormsby…

Ormsby aimed his rifle at her…

Click.

Click.

Both weapons were empty. Ormsby ejected the empty magazine and reached for a fresh one in his vest pocket.

Rania had noticed the box of shotgun shells in Zeke’s pocket earlier. She bent down and snatched the box. The shells had to be loaded one by one, but one was all she needed. She finished loading her single shell just before Ormsby finished reloading his weapon. Pumping the shotgun one-handed, she blew Ormsby’s head off. Her heart beating fast with triumph, Rania turned back to finish dealing with Zeke.

He was no longer there. “Oh, shit,” said Rania. Sure enough, a split second later Zeke crashed into her from behind, tackling her to the ground. His eyes burning with rage, he began choking her as he lay on top of her.

Losing air fast, she put all her remaining strength into a punch. The blow hit Zeke squarely on the nose, breaking it. As his blood began flowing, his hands flew to his injured nose. Rania breathed in a deep lungful of air, then threw her opponent off of her just like she had done earlier.

She stood up and kicked him in the side as he was down, cracking one of his ribs. A second, well-aimed kick to the same spot broke the rib completely. A third kick cracked another rib. As Rania drew her leg back for a fourth kick, Zeke suddenly tripped her. Rania began falling…and turned the motion into a back handspring, landing perfectly on her feet. Zeke, who had been about to laugh, scowled in fury instead.

She laughed at him. The mercenary leader, holding his battered ribs in pain, stood up slowly. Rania, on the other hand, was much faster. She performed a front tuck somersault towards him, landing right in front of his face. She punched him in the eye, giving him a nice shiner. “That black eye’s payback for mine, dirtbag,” she snapped. She pummeled him in the stomach several times with her fists, then rammed her knee into it. Zeke gasped for breath and felt like puking. Rania turned sideways, then suddenly elbowed him in the head. As stars appeared in his eyes, she side kicked him in the chest. She then roundhouse kicked him in the side of his head, sending him flying. His back crashed into a tree trunk.

With her victim pinned against the trunk, Rania balanced on her left leg and fired lightning-fast high kicks from her right into his face. Blood and teeth flew as she kicked the crap out of him. Finally, she paused, blew him a kiss, and performed a spin kick. Her boot slammed into his head, knocking him down and out.

When Zeke woke up a few minutes later, he saw Rania standing over him. She was now wearing his .45 pistol on her slim right hip. She smiled down at him coldly. Grabbing him by the hair, she yanked him up to a kneeling postion. “Now it’s time for a little Q and A,” she announced. “Be thankful I’m going to be generous. If you cooperate, I won’t shoot you. Who hired you?”

He spat at her. Rania rammed her knee into his face. Droplets of blood stained her pants. “Now, who the fuck hired you?” she demanded.

“Fucking bitch,” he said, spitting again, but spitting blood this time. Rania kneed him in the face three times in rapid succession, putting a little more strength into each successive blow.

“I kneed a guy’s skull in once,” she said. “I can do it again.” She began raising her knee.

“No!” cried Zeke. “Enough! I give! This guy named Tim hired us. He’s with the State Department.”

“State Department. Those traitors. I knew it,” Rania muttered.

“Now that I know who it is, I know why,” she said. “This Tim guy, was he the big boss? Or was he working for someone?”

“He was working for a guy named…”

“…Bender,” Rania finished, remembering the rude State Department agent who had sassed her after her sister was killed.

Zeke gasped. “How the fuck did you know?”

“That’s not important. Anyway, I’m asking the questions here. Now, you guys look well-equipped. Cell phones don’t work out here, but I assume you have some method of communication that does?”

“I have a satellite phone,” Zeke admitted.

“Good,” said Rania. “Now, here’s what you’re going to do. You’re going to call Bender and Tim and tell them the mission was successful. You’re going to have them meet you in an isolated location to pay you whatever they haven’t paid you yet. And you’re going to give a very good and very convincing performance, because if you don’t, I will blow your brains out.” She tapped her .45 threateningly.

The mercenary leader trembled in fear. “If I do this, do you promise you won’t shoot me?”

“You have my word of honor as a lady,” Rania answered.

“All right. The phone’s in my pocket.”

“Take it out. Slowly.”

Zeke took out his phone and began dialing. “Hey, Tim, it’s Zeke. Mission went off without a hitch. We capped the bitch and made sure to fuck her good before bumping her off. Where can we meet to get the rest of the money? I want someplace more isolated than the mercenary bar. Don’t want those other guys getting their greedy eyes on the green.”

There was a pause as Tim responded, then Zeke said, “It’s settled then. Over and out.”

He turned to Rania. “Pretty convicing, huh? Tim and Bender will be at the third bench on the north side of the pond in Snowmane Park in Washington DC, at noon the day after tomorrow.”

“Good job,” said Rania. Zeke sighed in relief.

“And now, it’s time for you to die,” she added.

Zeke wet his pants. “What?! But you promised you wouldn’t shoot me!”

“I know. I’m going to break your neck.” With that, Rania wrapped her slender but muscular thighs around his neck and twisted her boyish hips 180 degrees, killing him.

She spat on the corpse. “You were going to gang-rape me and you expect me to let you live? Fucker.” She spat on Ormsby’s corpse too, then knelt by Collins’ corpse and covered it neatly with leaves. “Thanks for saving me,” she whispered. “Rest in peace. The rest of you mercenaries, burn in hell.”

Rania felt her heart rate slowly return to normal. She was safe now, but she still had a job to do. Before heading back to her car, she looked through the mercenaries’ packs. Among other things, she discovered several small land mines. An idea popped into her head.

Rania stood in the Washington DC park, hiding behind a tree and waiting for Bender and Tim to show up. She rolled up her sleeve and looked at her watch. Sure enough, right at noon, the two men appeared. They walked towards the bench they had indicated. Closer…closer…she waited until one of them stepped in just the right place…

Tim stepped on a mine. It was well-buried and he didn’t notice.

Rania leapt out from behind her tree and aimed the .45 she had appropriated from Zeke at them. “Freeze, assholes!”

Both men stared in shock. “YOU!” shrilled Bender. “How the fuck did you…Where the fuck’s Zeke?! He said…”

“Never mind that. The important thing is that I’ve planted land mines all around here. When you step on one, as soon as you step off it’ll blow you to kingdom come. So hold really still and listen very carefully.” Bender and Tim trembled in fear. They both nodded.

“You,” she growled, pointing an elegant finger from her left hand at Bender. Her right was still aiming the .45. “You’re a big cheese at the State Department. You’re corrupt and you know who else is corrupt. Give me the names of every corrupt agent you know. If you refuse, I’ll kill you. If you cooperate, I promise I won’t shoot you or make you step on a mine.”

“You swear to it?” asked Bender.

“You have my word of honor as a lady,” Rania answered.

“Okay,” said Bender. He began rattling off names, which Rania committed to her excellent memory.

“That’s the last of them,” said Bender. “Now remember your promise.”

“Oh, I will,” cooed Rania. She smiled wickedly…and shifted her aim and shot Tim in the head. She then holstered her pistol and began backflipping away, doing back handspring after back handspring in rapid succession.

Suddenly realizing where the mine must be, Bender grabbed Tim’s corpse, trying to keep his weight on the mine. “YOU DIRTY BITCH!” he roared. “Motherfucking cunt! I’ll get you for this! Gaaaahh!”

Bender struggled. He held Tim’s weight on the mine for as long as he could. His muscles burned with agony, but that was nothing compared to the pure terror in his mind, with the knowledge that he was going to die and there wasn’t a fucking thing in the universe he could do about it.

It may have been his body that gave in first. It may have been his mind. But whatever it was, Tim’s corpse slipped loose from Bender’s grasp and both men blew up in a spectacular explosion.

Rania, watching from the trees, smiled grimly. “Vengeance is mine,” she said in triumph. She then whipped out a notebook and wrote down the names of the corrupt agents that she had memorized.

THE END

Tales from the Amazon Wars, Episode 1

It was time. With trumpets blaring and banners waving, the royal army – seven thousand infantry, a thousand cavalry, and a dozen cannons – marched out of the gates of the colonial capital, ready to teach those arrogant Amazons a lesson.

Three weeks earlier, the ambassadors, five of them, had ridden into Amazon territory with a letter signed by His Majesty himself, King Frederick IX, demanding acceptance of the royal kingdom as the Amazons’ feudal overlords and a tribute of fifty of the Amazon tribes’ prettiest, most athletic young women per month for the sexual gratification of the royalist males. The response had come swiftly, in the form of a riderless horse, galloping back to royalist territory, carrying a bag filled with five decapitated heads. The colonial governor, with the blessing of His Majesty from across the sea, had quickly raised an army to punish this act of feminine treachery.

And now, as the soldiers headed off to battle, their spirits were high. How could mere girls defeat big, tough grown adult males, after all? Most of the men were thinking of a swift victory followed by the bounty of the spoils of war. The army’s commander, Major General Donner, had promised his men any girl-warrior they captured as a sex slave. Bulging hard-ons could be seen in many of the soldiers’ crotches as they marched, as they thought about their promised reward.

Two days’ march into Amazon territory, the royalist scouts returned with the news the men had been waiting for. An army of Amazon warrior maidens was advancing to meet them. Only three thousand in number, and armed with bows, swords, and spears against the royalist cannons and muskets, General Donner laughed arrogantly when he heard the report.

The general was a fat and stupid man, who had only risen to his rank because of his noble blood and political connections. His failures on the battlefield were many, and though they were never punished beyond mild reprimands because of his status, he longed for a great victory he could call his own. Now, here was the perfect opportunity, right in front of him. It was going to be so easy.

They drew themselves up in the standard battle formation of the day – infantry front and center, cavalry on the wings, artillery perched on a high bluff in the rear, ready to fire over the heads of the men below and straight into the Amazon ranks. The general and his staff officers sat on their horses by the cannons, watching the scene below on the grassy plain, a place that would become known as the Plain of Tears before the sun would set that day.

“Estimate front ranks of the enemy in cannon range, sir,” his artillery commander reported.

“Excellent. You may fire when ready,” he ordered. The artillery commander gave the order and one by one, the twelve cannons unleashed their projectiles, some falling short, some landing in the Amazon ranks, dropping a few girls here and there. The men waiting on the plain cheered at the sight of female warriors falling, but the effect was small compared to the size of the Amazon army.

As the artillerymen reloaded, a spine-chilling, high-pitched battle cry came from the Amazon girls. A second later, a barrage of arrows was flying towards the royalist army. General Donner snorted. “Arrows against the might of our cannons? They can’t hit us up here.”

“But they can hit them,” said one of his officers. Sure enough, the arrows slammed into the front ranks of the infantry with brutal efficiency, dropping a hundred men dead instantly, and leaving a hundred more howling in agony from gruesome wounds. The arrows were long and thick, fired from powerful bows, and had sadistically barbed arrowheads with multiple sharp points to cause particularly gory injuries.

The men fired back with their muskets, but their primitive firearms, with an effective range of only a hundred yards, were no match for the Amazon archers, who could hit targets at three hundred yards easily. The musket balls fell harmlessly into the dirt far in front of the Amazons, as another lethal volley of arrows came, causing more carnage among the helpless males.

General Donner dismounted his horse and began stamping his feet, shouting at his cannoneers. “Hurry it up, will you?”

“These things take time, sir,” responded the artillery commander. Two more devastating volleys of Amazon arrows slammed into the royalist infantry before the cannons finally fired again. Some more Amazon girls fell, but again some of the artillery fire fell short, and the damage was far less than what the girl-archers could do.

“They’re getting four or five volleys for every one we do,” moaned an officer. “We can’t go on like this!”

“Cavalry charge,” growled General Donner. “Sweep those archer bitches off the field.”

“Sir, if we do that, they’ll suffer terrible casualties from the arrows. Our cavalry is valuable. I recommed either a full infantry attack to accompany the cavalry, or a retreat while we let our artillery take care of business. If we stay stuck in the middle like this we’ll be slaughtered,” his chief of staff said.

“I am in command here, and I say cavalry charge!” Donner shouted. “Our riders will mow those girl-archers down like grass. After that, then the infantry can advance and crush the Amazon swordswomen.”

“Yes, sir. Cavalry charge it is.” A trumpet blared and the royalist cavalry, one thousand men and horses, began their fateful (and fatal) charge.

The Amazon archers turned their attention to the galloping cavalry. Their arrows rained death upon the riders. Despite the speed of the well-bred royalist horses, the girl-archers were so efficient and accurate that by the time the cavalry had almost reached the Amazons’ front line, more than half the riders were dead. Up on the bluff, the chief of staff shook his head sadly at the carnage he had warned his commander was coming.

The surviving cavalrymen lowered their lances as they reached the final phase of their charge. Now, they would get revenge for their fallen comrades. Now, they would make those bitches pay. The girls, wearing only leather armor, on foot, and carrying no hand-to-hand combat weapons other than short swords, would be no match for heavily armored riders with lances.

But not three seconds before the cavalry would have ridden into their enemies, the front rank of Amazons suddenly snatched up long, sharp spears that had been lying hidden in the grass. With lightning speed and perfect coordination, they formed a solid wall of lethal spear points. Too late to stop the charge, the first line of cavalry rode straight into their gruesome deaths, male voices screaming as they were impaled. The cavalry commander tried to rally his men, but a tall, slender, muscular Amazon maiden stood up, long hair blowing in the wind, and hurled her spear, sending it straight through his heavy armor, right through his heart, and through the armor on his back as well.

The surviving horsemen did the only thing they could do. They fled. The female archers were not going to let them get off so easy. They opened fire again, really showing off their markswomanship. Men fell dead by the dozens, arrows in their backs. Of the thousand cavalrymen who had begun the charge, less than twenty made it back to their own lines.

The royalist infantry was already advancing. The general’s chief of staff had ordered it and even Donner, fool that he was, had enough sense to realize they had to win this fight now if they were going to win at all. Arrows rained down on the infantrymen, killing many, as they advanced as rapidly as possible, trying to get into musket range.

The General and his officers watched anxiously from the top of the bluff as their numbers steadily shrank. The cannons were still firing, but couldn’t do more than drop a few women warriors here and there. A mass of Amazon swordswomen formed up rapidly in the front of their ranks. Behind them, the archer-girls were still firing, over their comrades’ heads and into the royalist infantry.

“Take aim-unh!” As an infantry colonel shouted his command, an arrow drove through his armor and into his right lung. He fell to the dirt, on his way to an excruciating death ten minutes later. His lieutenant colonel barked, “Take aim! Fire!”

As the ranks of muskets spit flame, the entire corps of Amazon swordswomen, with the grace, skill, and coordination of champion gymnasts, suddenly executed perfect, simultaneous standing back handsprings. The musket balls whizzed harmlessly between their legs as they were upside down. The swordswomen landed neatly on their feet as the musket balls landed in the dirt behind them. The female archers, still firing, had intelligently retreated out of musket range.

As the men stared in shock at the display of female athleticism that had completely and utterly shown them up, the swordswomen launched themselves into cartwheels followed by rapid back handsprings directly at the males, elegantly backflipping with amazing speed. Many of the soldiers developed hard-ons at the sight of such awe-inspiring female gymnastic skill. The royalist infantry reloaded and fired another volley. The swordswomen responded by increasing their speed just enough to time their perfectly coordinated flips so that they would be safely upside down when the musket balls reached them. Sure enough, once again the strategy worked to perfection, the rounds flying harmlessly between their legs.

“Fire at will, you fools! Fire at will!” an officer shouted. It was too late, however. The Amazon girls could backflip a hundred yards in less than thirty seconds, not enough time for a musketeer to get off a third shot. The officer drew his pistol, taking aim at a young woman in bright colors who seemed to be a warrior of high rank, but before he could fire, a perfectly thrown Amazon knife came flying and drove straight into his heart.

The girl-warriors finished their tumbling passes with various full and double full twists, landing right on the front ranks of royalist infantrymen and cutting them to pieces with their wickedly sharp swords. The Amazon swordswomen wielded a blade in each hand, and had a graceful but lethal attack style that was known as the dance of death. While the strongest and most muscular girls were chosen to become archers, as they could best handle the huge, heavy bows that the Amazons used, the swordswomen were chosen from the fastest, most agile girls. The men, trying to fight back with their bayonets, were utterly helpless against the blinding speed of the sexy swordswomen. Arms, legs, and heads flew off, guts were disemboweled, and some bodies were simply chopped in half as the warrior maidens sliced and diced their way through the male ranks.

General Donner and his staff were looking at the scene below them in pure shock. How could it have come to this? How could eight thousand of His Majesty’s finest men be defeated – not just defeated, but utterly annihilated – by three thousand teenage girls?

If the General and his staff officers were alarmed, the men below were in pure terror. Literally caught between a rock and a hard place, trapped with cliffs behind them and the relentless Amazon death machine in front of them, they knew they were doomed. The girls were so quick that they could cut the men in front to pieces before they could fire, and the soldiers in the rear couldn’t shoot without hitting their own men. Most of them simply threw down their muskets and prayed for a quick death – an arrow through the heart or a simple decapitation.

As the scene below continued to unfold – the color on the plain steadily turning from the blue and white uniforms of the Royalists to a simple brown, the brown leather and darkly tanned brown skin of the Amazon girls, his chief of staff tapped the General on the shoulder. “Beg pardon, milord, but I think it’s time to get these cannons out of here.”

General Donner sighed, his shoulders slumping. All the fight had gone out of him. “Yes. Make it so.” The artillerymen removed the cannons from their emplacements and began harnessing the draft horses to them. The one hundred men of the King’s Royal Guard, a hand-picked elite corps, stood at attention, ready to escort the artillery and their General to safety.

Suddenly, there was a terrifying, high-pitched female warrior cry from the nearby forest, followed by the thundering sound of hoofbeats. The men looked at one another in fear. “We were wondering where the Amazon cavalry was,” said one officer. “Well, I think we’ve found our answer.”

A volley of arrows came flying from the trees. “Of course,” said another officer, rolling his eyes. There was no cover. The lethal arrows slammed into the men with devastating efficiency. Sixty Guardsmen, half the artillerymen, and three staff officers collapsed to the dirt, dead or dying. The surviving cannoneers frantically tried to get the big guns turned around, but maneuvering the slow, clumsy weapons in time was hopeless.

The well-trained Guardsmen stood cold and still in the face of death, holding their fire, waiting for a target they could see. Then came the thrown weapons. Spears, axes, and knives, hurled with incredible strength and accuracy by the horsewomen still hidden in the cover of the trees. Dozens more men dropped dead with axes to their skulls, knives to their hearts, or simple good old impalements through the middle with spears.

They finally emerged from the trees, perhaps three hundred of them, slender, muscular, pretty teenage girls on horses, charging at full speed. The surviving Guardsmen had time to fire a single volley, bringing a few girls down, but the fight was already over. Spear-wielding horsewomen rode right into the Guardsmen, whose bayonets were no match for the long, sharp female spears. The men fell, disemboweled or impaled. Meanwhile, another group of horsewomen was riding down the artillerymen, decapitating them with their swords. Men who tried to run or ride away were shot down with expert precision by a group of horsewomen in the rear with bows, smaller than the massive ones fired by the infantry-women but well-designed and modified to be capable of piercing armor.

General Donner, his chief of staff, and two more of his officers were the only men left alive. The Amazons surrounded them, dozens of arrows and spears pointed at them as the men raised their hands in surrender.

The crowd of horsewomen parted and a young Amazon princess rode up. She smiled at her captives seductively and dominantly. “You fools. You cowards. Did you really think that your fires and explosions would be enough to defeat the Amazon Nation? Now you will pay for your arrogance.” She made a quick motion with her muscular, bracelet-adorned wrist and strong female arms seized the men. “You will now be taken to be sacrificed to the Mother Goddess. You will suffer. You will burn. And you will learn what all enemies of the Amazon Nation learn. Never let an Amazon girl take you alive, because you’d be better off dead.” The men trembled in fear. General Donner wet his pants.

“Riders approaching! Three of them. Our men,” said the scout from his lookout tower on the wall surrounding the Colonial Capital.

“Open the gate!” shouted another man. Three brusied, battered, weary looking riders, a young man in a lieutenant’s uniform and two enlisted soldiers, rode into town, gasping with extreme relief as the gates shut behind them. The Governor, having heard the commotion, hurried up to the scene. “What news from the battle, Lieutenant?”

“Milord…we’re it. We’re the only survivors. The Amazons… they slaughtered us all.”

“What?! Impossible! Eight thousand of His Majesty’s finest men? You must be mistaken. More men will be coming, I’m sure,” said the Governor, in denial.

“Even if more survivors come in, sir, they’ll just be a few more stragglers. I was there. I saw the whole battle. We were annihilated. Utterly annihilated. Those girls…they fought like demonesses. I’ve never seen anything like it…”

The Governor put his face in his hands. “All right. Get these men some food and water. When they’ve recovered, bring them to my mansion. I’ll want a full report on what happened,” he ordered. “Double the guards on the walls, right now. And send a messenger-ship to His Majesty.”

Thunder rumbled ominously in the distance as the men hurried to carry out the governor’s orders. A sense of doom and dread came over the town underneath the gray, rapidly darkening sky.

TO BE CONTINUED…