Tales from the Amazon Wars, Episode 2: Enter the Princess: Her Royal Highness is sent to stop the Amazons
The citizens of the Colonial Capital were frightened, and rightfully so. Two weeks earlier, eight thousand of their soldiers had been massacred by an army of just three thousand teenage Amazon girls. Only three male soldiers had escaped alive to tell the tale. Four others had been captured by the Amazons. The men who had died were luckier.
In the days that had followed, isolated outposts were overrun by roving bands of Amazon maidens. Garrisons were slaughtered to the last man. The people had fled into the few towns on this large, partially explored island that were protected by city walls, leaving the Amazons to rampage throughout the countryside, burning crops and buildings. The Colonial Governor had sent for help from His Majesty’s army on the mainland, but due to the four-week round-trip travel time, it would be another two weeks before the earliest help could be expected to arrive. The town watch, on double guard ever since news of the battle had broken, was full of jitters, expecting every day to see lethal Amazon warrioresses riding out of the woods. The Governor tried to calm the citizens’ fears. “Even if they do come,” he said, “they can’t breach our walls with their primitive weapons.”
“We lost twelve cannons at the massacre,” a lieutanant, one of the three men who had escaped from the battle, pointed out. “And more from the outposts that were captured by the Amazons.”
“How would they know how to use them?” asked the Governor. “We just need to sit tight and stay calm. Reinforcements will arrive soon. Then we can teach those arrogant Amazons a lesson.”
And so with those words, the citizens of the royal kingdom tried to find strength and comfort. But it was not to last. On the fifteenth day after the massacre, a guard up on the city wall was making his usual rounds. Thinking he saw something in the woods, he tried to get a better look. Suddenly, something was flying directly at him with incredible speed. He let out the beginning of a scream which was abruptly cut short.
Three of his comrades rushed over at the sound. They found him dead on the wall, the razor-sharp tip of a spear embedded in his skull. Three decapitated heads had already been impaled on the spear before it had been thrown by an obviously very powerful arm.
They recognized the heads immediately. They were those of Major General Donner, the commander of the ill-fated army that had been massacred by the Amazons, along with his chief of staff and his artillery commander. All three heads were covered with bloody cuts and scars. That, along with the expressions of terror frozen on their dead faces, indicated that they had been subjected to sadistic torture before meeting their grisly ends. The youngest guard fainted at the gory sight. Another began throwing up. The last guard, the oldest, managed to scream for his commander. “Milord! Look!”
The officer hurried over, gasping in shock at the scene. He opened his mouth, but before he could say anything, a cannon shot boomed. The stone wall in front of them crumbled away and all four men dropped stone cold dead, bodies blasted to pieces. More cannon fire came, more stones were blown loose from the wall, and more men dropped, some dead, some with arms and legs gruesomely blown off. “WHAT?!” The Governor came flying out of his mansion at the sound. All around the city, people were staring at the carnage that had come out of nowhere.
A figure emerged from the woods. It was a man, bloody, bruised, and battered, covered with scars from whips. His hands were tied, and on his broken body he wore the tattered remnants of a Royal Artillery captain’s uniform. Another figure came up behind him. This one was a girl, perhaps in her late teens, petite and slender, but well-muscled. Despite being far smaller than the man, she was clearly in dominant control of him.
She spoke in a commanding but feminine voice. “Cowards of the male kingdom! Did you think you would be safe behind your walls? Think again, fools! Your comrade here was kind enough to train us in the use of these cannons we captured from you, after a little ‘encouragement,’ of course. You cannot run and you cannot hide from the Amazon Nation! The Mother Goddess will never be denied her vengeance!”
“Kill her!” ordered the Governor. Dozens of muskets spit flame, but the girl had already begun executing a lightning-fast series of standing back handsprings, elegantly backflipping like a pro-gymnast into the cover of the woods, dodging all the musket balls easily. After she disappeared, the artillery officer was left standing there alone, staring up at the people he had betrayed. “Traitor! Coward!” came the shouts from the citizens.
“Please!” he begged. “They tortured me…”
“Silence, turncoat!” boomed the Governor. He pointed to the decapitated heads of the other three officers impaled on the spear. “They were tortured too, but they had the balls to stay loyal to their king and country! And you did not! By the authority vested in me by His Majesty, I sentence you to death for treason. Guards, kill him!”
The soldiers, in a bloodthirsty mood and wanting to lash out at something, needed no encouragement. They opened fire and the traitor dropped dead like a sack of potatoes, at least twenty musket balls in him. The citizens cheered at his death, the only thing they had to celebrate that day. Cheering loudest of all was the dead traitor’s own wife, a musket that she had snatched from a soldier in her silk-gloved hands. She had aimed for his groin and her shot had hit true.
The cheering stopped abruptly, however, as the Amazons began firing the captured cannons again. The soldiers fired back with the cannons mounted on the city walls, but the enemy guns were well hidden in the woods and trying to knock them out was blind guesswork.
And so it continued. Each day, another forty or fifty men died from Amazon cannon fire. Each day, the sturdy stone wall around the city grew a little weaker. To make matters worse, the Amazon girls also began using hit-and-run tactics, in which horsewomen would ride out from the woods, fire expertly aimed shots from their bows, dropping several males dead each time, and retreat back into cover before the defenders could respond. Soon, the wall became fully breached in several places, forcing men to be pulled off of other duties to keep each opening guarded. Makeshift barricades of overturned wagons and old furniture were placed at the gaps. Reserves for the dozens of soldiers who died each day were running thin, and boys and old men were starting to be pressed into military service. And to the defenders’ unending frustration, they had no way to tell whether their own cannon fire was having any effect on the enemy. The increase in the intensity of the enemy fire indicated that either it was not, the Amazons were bringing up more captured cannons from the overrun outposts, or both.
Getting news from the outside world was impossible. During the first few nights of the siege, scouts and spies had been sent out quietly from the walls to try to gather information about the enemy positions and what was happening in other towns. And each morning, like clockwork, the corpses of the spies sent out the previous night would be tossed out of the woods, perforated with arrows, impaled with spears, or simply sliced and diced into small pieces. After the fourth night, the Governor had ordered the spy patrols stopped.
The Amazon espionage missions had far more success. Under the cover of night, girl warriors snuck out of the woods with catlike stealth. Evading the gazes of the guards, they used their gymnast-like strength and agility to scale the walls, then wreaked havoc inside the town before escaping. Cannons were booby-trapped to explode when fired. Food, water, and ammunition were stolen. And men were executed by girl-assassins with knives, swords, axes, and bows. One night, two teenage girls slipped into the city, silently slaughtered thirty-seven male victims, and slipped back out into the woods without a single hair in their elegant coiffures being disturbed. Morale among the defenders plunged to rock bottom. As they waited for the inevitable mass attack, people even began talking about evacuating the city by sea. The great Colonial Capital that had stood proud and dominant on the island for two hundred years was being humbled by an army of tanned, long-haired, pretty girls.
The day of the attack was not long in coming. One cold morning, just before dawn, a terrifying, high-pitched female warrior cry came from the woods, directly opposite one of the breaches in the wall. The sound was accompanied by the pounding of footsteps and hoofbeats. “They’re coming! To arms, to arms! To the breach!”
Sleepy men grabbed their muskets and raced to the opening. “Positions! Take aim!” barked an officer. “Don’t fire until I give the order!”
The men waited. And waited. Suddenly, horrible screams came from across town, at one of the other breaches in the wall. The Amazons had cleverly lured the main body of soldiers to one part of the city, then attacked and overwhelmed the few defenders at one of the other openings. Amazon cavalry was riding through the city, shooting down men with their bows and decapitating them with their swords.
The soldiers manning the cannons on the wall prepared to fire. Suddenly, devastatingly accurate volleys of arrows slammed into the artillerymen. Male bodies dropped like flies, arrows sticking out of various parts of their corpses. The few survivors could do nothing more than crawl away. Meanwhile, as the main body of infantry turned to meet the threat inside the walls, a second wave of horsewomen rode out towards the breach they had orignally been guarding, ready to finish the trap.
From a window on the third floor of his mansion, the Governor looked out at the scene sadly. Was this how it was going to end?
Suddenly, just as the top of the sun peeked over the horizon in the eastern sky, there came the deep, familiar sound of a war horn. Not an Amazon war horn, but the one of the Royalist army!
A volley of artillery fire from a large mass of cannons boomed. Grapeshot and canister were poured into the horsewomen charging towards the gap in the wall, dropping many. Though taken completely by surprise, the Amazon riders reacted swiftly and efficiently. With expert coordination, the survivors wheeled about and rode back into the cover of the woods. The Amazon cavalry still inside the walls reacted with the same expert skill. Shooting or riding down anyone in their way, they fled as quickly as they had charged, mounted girl-archers in the rear firing backwards over their shoulders with impressive accuracy to discourage men from shooting them in the backs as they rode away.
Over the crest of a ridge in the east appeared a massive force of Royalist cavalry, three thousand riders. Leading them was a beautiful young woman on a white horse. “It’s the Princess!” came the joyous cry from the defenders of the city. “Princess Katarina has come!”
The Royalist cavalry formed up, the Princess riding in front of them, her sword raised. “Make safe our city, in the name of the King!” she cried, her commanding but feminine and musical voice audible even in the distance. “Forth, and fear no darkness!” As the war-horn bellowed again, the riders let out a roar and charged down the hill, following their female commander. The men in the city joined in the shouting.
The riders thundered across the plain towards the city and the woods. Suddenly, from the cover of the trees, a volley of Amazon arrows came flying towards them, followed immediately by another, two groups of girl-archers executing a well-coordinated attack. Princess Katarina, with her quick reflexes, raised the shield strapped to her slender left arm, stopping two arrows that would have hit her face. Most of the males near her, however, were not as quick. Some dropped dead instantly, arrows in their brains, throats, or hearts. Others, including some who had gotten their shields up, were hit in their exposed legs by the first volley. As they dropped their shields with cries of pain, the second barrage of arrows finished them off. Still others had thought they could save their money by buying cheap wooden shields instead of well-built metal ones. Their penny-pinching cost them their lives, as the powerful bows of the Amazons sent arrows straight through the wood and into male flesh.
More arrows came flying at them. A lesser commander would have turned and run, dooming many of his men to being shot in the back and wasting the effort of the charge. But the Princess had balls. Not literally, of course, but the figurative kind. She let out a high-pitched warrior shirek, rallying her men though soldiers and horses were dropping dead all around them, expertly deflecting another arrow with her shield, urging her soldiers on faster.
Another woman on a white horse was in the woods. She, too was a Princess, but a Princess of the Amazon nation. Her name was Jenova, and she was the second daughter of the Queen and the commander of the Amazon advance force in the forest.
“My Lady!” A mounted teenage girl-warrior with a bow in her hand rode up to her. “Forgive me, my lady Jenova. Our arrows were not enough to stop them. They’re going to ride into us.”
“Shh,” whispered Jenova. “You did well. You slew many of them. Now have your girls fire one more volley, then retreat. It’s time for another group to fight.”
“Yes, milady.” As the archer rode off, Jenova stared at the woman leading the charge in the distance, wondering who she was and why a girl was leading this band of males.
As the riders approached the trees, Katarina drew her double-barreled pistol, gripping it tightly in her leather-gloved right hand, her shield still on her other arm. Though riding at top speed, her trained dark brown eyes were carefully scanning the wall of green. Suddenly, a look of alarm appeared on her face. “Ambush! Ambush! They’re hiding in the branches!”
Sure enough, a petite but muscular Amazon girl, a blade in each hand, launched herself from the nearest tree with a powerful front tuck somersault directly at Katarina. The Princess fired her pistol, killing her attacker in midair. Another Amazon hurled a spear at her. Katarina ducked. “LOOK OUT!” she shouted. The male soldier riding directly behind her wasn’t fast enough, however, and got impaled right in the center of his chest, the powerful throw sending the spear straight through his armor.
As the Royalist cavalry rode into the forest, Amazon girls dropped on them like rain from high up in the trees. Thanks to Katarina’s warning, some of the men were able to save themselves with their pistols. Others, however, were blinded by the Amazons’ speed and gymnastic skills, and met gruesome ends by Amazon blades after missing their pistol shots. Katarina, seeing an enemy about to stab one of her men, fired her second barrel, shooting her straight through the heart. The Princess then drew her sword, decapitating an axe-wielding Amazon who was leaping at her.
The battle in the woods was long and bloody, and many died on both sides. But thanks to superior numbers and Katarina’s leadership, the Royalists won the fight. The surviving Amazon warriors retreated by backflipping away with incredible speed and agility, causing most of the shots fired at them by the male soldiers to miss.
Behind the cavalry, thousands of Royalist infantrymen marched down the hill, splitting into two columns and securing the space surrounding the Colonial Capital. Meanwhile, more Royalist infantry landed at the docks and marched directly into the city itself.
Princess Jenova of the Amazons rode up to her older sister, Princess Livia, heiress to the throne. The two made a striking pair. Both were incredibly beautiful, but Jenova’s curly shoulder-length black tresses contrasted sharply with Livia’s long, straight auburn hair. It had been Livia who had commanded the girl-army that had massacred the eight thousand Royalist soldiers in the earlier battle. The torture of the four male officers and the execution of three of them had also been done on Livia’s orders.
“We did what damage we could while preserving as much of our forces as we could,” Jenova reported. “We have about eight hundred dead and several hundred wounded, but the enemy has suffered heavy losses too. Our archers are still picking off men at the edges of their columns, but we’re going to have to retreat into the interior of the island soon, before they can organize a pursuit. Most of the wounded have already been put on horses and are back on their way to our fortifications.”
“Those males have been so cowardly and weak,” said Livia. “Why do they fight like they have balls all of a sudden? Our arrows should have cut their cavalry charge to pieces just like it did on the Plain of Victory four weeks ago. The city should be ours.”
“A woman leads them now,” Jenova replied.
“Ah, that explains that,” said Livia, nodding. “But that doesn’t explain why a woman is leading those males in the first place. Tell me, sister. What does she look like?”
“She is tall, slender, and beautiful. She would look exactly like one of us if she dressed like us. She even has darkly tanned brown skin like we do. It was her leadership that won the day for the enemy. Without her, the men would have crumbled. If we could capture her alive and convince her to join us, she could be a very powerful ally indeed.”
“An interesting idea, little sister. But we must also remember how dangerous she is. At any rate, now is not the time for such discussions. We must regroup and plan our next attack.” Livia clenched her fists. “I just hate losing battles. This is the first one I’ve ever lost. I need to let my rage out…hello, I think I see just what the herbalist ordered.” She turned to a young woman with a crossbow standing nearby. “Give me that.”
“Yes, milady.” The girl-archer bowed and handed the weapon over. About 300 yards away, a male soldier was helping a wounded comrade get up. He placed the injured man on a horse, then got on himself. Livia grinned wickedly and took careful aim. Her accuracy was lethal and perfect, despite the great distance. The large, thick, cruelly barbed steel bolt flew through the air with tremendous speed and power, impacting the second man in the back, driving all the way through his armor, through his torso, through the armor on his front side, and coming to rest in the body of the first man after penetrating his armor as well. Both soldiers dropped dead to the dirt. Livia handed back the crossbow, laughing aloud at her markswomanship. “Come on, let’s go.” She began to ride away, still smirking.
The Colonial Capital was saved. Two large scouting parties, one to the northwest and one to the southwest, had been sent out to investigate the status of other towns in the island colony. Cavalry now regularly patrolled the nearby woods. The broken sections of the city wall were already being repaired. “Thank you for saving us, Princess,” said the Governor, bowing before Katarina submissively.
“You may stand, Governor,” she responded. “You did the best you could with what little forces you had left, after General Donner foolishly squandered most of them.” The Governor smiled with relief.
“What news from the battle?” she asked her chief of staff.
“Milady, our army suffered a thousand men dead, seven hundred badly wounded, and six hundred walking wounded. That’s only from our arriving force, it’s not counting the casualties among the city guard and the civilians. We lost more men than horses, so we can reassign some of our infantry as cavalry. We estimate that we destroyed about one-fifth of the enemy force, though keep in mind that their army was significantly smaller than ours. Most of their cavalry escaped, and we only managed to recapture two cannons, so they still have significant artillery strength.”
“Thank you, General. And of the earlier battle, I heard there were three survivors?”
“I wish to speak with them immediately. Have them brought to me. After that, I am calling a council of war in one hour at the Governor’s mansion. All officers of the rank of lieutenant colonel and above should be there.”
After the men scurried to carry out her orders, Princess Katarina, left alone in relative peace and quiet for the first time in a while, sat down on an ornately carved stone bench overlooking a fountain, the water still flowing despite the siege and battle. She put her head in her hands. A thousand of her men dead. Plus likely several hundred more dead in the city. It was a delicate balance inside her between the tough warrior who knew that deaths were inevitable and the compassionate leader who cared deeply for the soldiers under her command.
Her thoughts turned to the future. The Amazons. How was she going to handle this? Was she even capable of handling this? After a single battle, she could say without question that they were the toughest opponents she had ever faced. Her side had had every advantage. Superior numbers. The element of surprise. Superior artillery firepower. And yet, the battle had essentially ended in a draw, or at best a minor victory for her side. What was going to happen when she met the Amazons in an even fight?
After speaking with the survivors of the first battle, Katarina felt even more intimidated by the Amazons. The men had described the enemy as having near-superhuman speed, unbelievable accuracy with bows and thrown weapons, expert knowledge of tactics, unshakeable courage, and the ability to learn and adapt incredibly fast.
Katarina was a powerful warrior princess in her own right. Though only twenty-three years old, she had already fought many battles, personally slain dozens of men in combat, and led Royalist troops to victory over larger armies time and again. Tall and intimidating, slender but muscular, powerful yet feminine, she looked quite the stereotypical female warrior. The daughter of King Frederick IX and his first wife, an exotic-looking noblewoman from a far-southern tribe, she had inherited her mother’s long, silky black hair and darkly tanned brown skin. Some men joked that she looked almost like an Amazon herself, though the similar deep tans of the Amazons and those of her mother’s tribe simply came from both groups living in warm climates. Their homelands were thousands of miles apart.
Katarina did not think of herself as having much in common with the Amazons…at least not yet. For now, her curiosity about them was motivated simply by her desire to know her enemy. Yes, she came from a society with a long tradition of sexism. It was unusual for women, even princesses, to lead armies in the kingdom, and it had taken several victorious battles for her to become the well-respected leader she was today. Yes, women had far fewer rights than men in her country. But her father was a good man who was trying to make things better. He had issued an edict making wife-beating illegal, and another allowing women to join some of the guilds. Not all, but some. And the throne…
The throne. It might even be hers someday. According to the law of the kingdom, the eldest son was first in line to inherit the throne, and daughters got the monarchy only if there were no available sons. She had one sibling, a younger brother, also named Frederick, called Junior to his face, but Little F behind his back, for Little Fuck-up. Twenty-one-year old Little F was not only dim-witted and utterly incompetent at everything from battle to money management, but also a cruel sadist. Everyone knew that he would make a terrible king, though some people still supported him for their own reasons. Some were as sadistic as he was, some hated the idea of a woman in power, and some wanted an incompetent fool who would be easy to manipulate rather than a strong leader.
But there was the rule, the Roslyn Rule, named for the queen who had been a distant ancestor. Way back then, King Frederick III had named his intelligent daughter, Roslyn, the heiress to the throne over her incompetent brother. That had started the tradition of a monarch being able to name another of his children his heir, if he deemed the eldest son would be a danger on the throne. In the five hundred years the Roslyn Rule had been in existence, it had only been used twice after the original proclamation. By the gods, it was time for it to be used again. Surely her father would not let the useless Little F on the throne…
Katarina was used to being the only woman in a room, as she was now in this council of war, held in the large basement of the Governor’s mansion. She looked over the various males in attendance. Some were courageous and intelligent men that she could always trust in battle. Others were cowardly fools who had only risen to their ranks because of political connections.
“How many soldiers do we have available here in fighting shape?” she asked.
“Milady, we have 13,000 infantry, 2500 cavalry, and 55 cannons,” her chief of staff answered.
She nodded. “We will send out two armies, following the paths our scouting parties took, one to the northwest and one to the southwest, to reclaim our land. Each army will have 6000 infantry, a thousand cavalry, and 20 cannons. We’ll keep 15 cannons in defense of the Colonial Capital, and 500 riders to patrol around the city.”
“But milady, that would leave only a thousand infantry in the city,” said one of her generals.
“Yes, plus the town guard,” she responded.
“Princess, the men of the town guard were decimated by the Amazon attacks. There are few men among them fit to fight,” the Governor said.
“Few men. That is true.” Katarina tossed her long black hair. “But women, on the other hand…We should be able to recruit two thousand young, fit female citizens of the city and arm them with muskets and bayonets. With them, plus the men of the town guard, the thousand Royalist infantrymen, and the cannons, that should be enough to hold the walls.”
Murmurs and whispers broke out in the room at the Princess’s idea. Some of the men approved of it, some were stubborn sexists who did not approve, and some were closeted schmoes – men who were sexually attracted to dominant, aggressive, weapon-wielding women – who were secretly turned on by the plan, but felt the need to express opposition to it to cover up their fetish. Actually, there was quite a bit of overlap between the second and third groups.
“Young ladies defending the Colonial Capital with muskets and bayonets? Preposterous!” shouted a fat colonel. “Girls would run and hide as soon as they saw the enemy coming!”
“The enemy? You mean the Amazons? Who are girls, the last time I checked, and who have shown that they can fight damn well, a whole lot better than anyone else who has gone up against the King’s army. And probably a whole lot better than a fat rear echelon mother fucker like you,” Katarina snapped.
The overweight officer dropped to his knees. “Forgive me, my Princess,” he begged.
She rolled her eyes. “Get up, sit down, and just keep your fat stupid mouth shut.”
“Yes, milady.” His voice was now barely above a whisper. Some of the other men were snickering at him.
“Getting back to business,” said Katarina. She turned to her chief of staff. “Have the soldiers ready to move out as soon as the scouts return. Governor, you will be in charge of recruiting the young women for city guard duty. Together, we will restore this colony to its former greatness.”
As the people in the Colonial Capital waited for the scouts to bring back news, their mood was far brighter than it had been in the past few weeks, although fear of the Amazons still ran high. The calm presence and strong leadership of Princess Katarina, however, helped their morale immensely.
The training of the female militia was coming along well. It was customary for girls as well as boys to learn how to use muskets, swords, and bayonets while growing up, so most of the training they required was learning how to fight together as large, cohesive units. The girls picked their new skills up quickly, and many of the male citizens became intimidated by, and attracted to, the new look of their women.
As for the Amazons, they seemed to be laying low for now. Katarina had issued strict orders for the cavalry patrolling around the city not to ride past certain boundaries. One patrol ignored the order, went past the boundaries, and disappeared, never to be seen again, although other riders reported hearing terrified screams of men being tortured far in the distance. After that, the horsemen kept close to the town. The Amazons were staying away from the walls, at least for the moment.
There was a knock on the door of Katarina’s large bedroom. “Come in,” she said.
An officer entered. “You wished to see me, milady?”
“Yes, Major. I was told that you’re the best military historian we have here. You know more about the Amazons than anyone else. I need you to tell me everything you know about them. Have a seat, I expect this will take a while.”
“Thank you, Princess. As far as we can tell, the Amazons have been on this island for at least several hundred years, maybe longer. We don’t know if they were the first inhabitants or if they were later conquerors. What we do know is that until relatively recently, they were split into warring clans that fought with each other as well as with male armies from other peoples. About a hundred years ago, a great warrior queen became the leader of one clan and conquered and unified all the others. She set up a well-organized monarchy that has been passed down through generations of daughters. The unified female empire began making war on the various male-dominated indigenous tribes of the island. The males didn’t stand a chance and fell one after another. But then, the queen realized that if the Amazons didn’t have any outsiders to fight, they might break up into squabbling clans again. So they set up a system that continues to this day. Basically, they handle the male-ruled tribes like cattle, keeping them boxed in, culling them from time to time, but never completely finishing them off.”
“Most interesting,” said Katarina. “Is there any chance of our exploiting old clan divisions within the Amazon nation?”
“I’m afraid not, milady. Even in the ages of warring clans, the Amazons had a strict rule. No band of female warriors was ever allowed to make an alliance with outsiders against another group of Amazons. The old ‘me against my brother’ policy, but with sisters.”
“Me against my sister, me and my sister against my cousin, me, my sister, and my cousin against the clan, the clan against the nation, and all of us against the outsider,” said the Princess, nodding. “A primitive but effective policy. Now, you’ve talked about the Amazons’ relationships with other tribes, but what about with our kingdom?”
“Although we’ve never had diplomatic relations of any kind with the Amazons, there was a sort of unwritten rule that as long as we stayed on our part of the island and they stayed on theirs, there wouldn’t be any trouble. A gentlemen’s agreement, or in this case a gentlemen’s and ladies’ agreement. Sometimes small groups of curiosity seekers would go into Amazon territory. None of them ever came out alive. Since it was obvious that the intrusions weren’t sanctioned by the kingdom, the Amazons were content with taking vengeance on the explorers themselves and not starting any bigger wars with us. I think they feared our modern technology. Unfortunately, now that they’ve faced it and seen its limitations, they’ve lost their fear of us, permanently, I’m afraid.”
“Well, we’ll just have to rekindle that fear,” said Katarina with a slight smile. “We show them we are not to be trifled with, we can restore the old borders, end their attacks, and bring back peace. Now can you tell me something of their social structure?”
“The Amazons have a strict hierarchy based on class. At the top are the warrior women. Every girl is trained in the arts of war as she grows up. When she comes of age, she must pass a test. Those who make it join the ranks of warriors and become full-fledged citizens of the Amazon Nation, with all the rights and privileges that come with it. Girls who fail their warrior test are not allowed to join the army and become farmers or merchants. They are second class citizens. Below them are the male slaves. There are two categories of slaves, the higher category being breeders. Strong, athletic men who are needed to mate with the women to produce strong babies. At the very bottom is the other category of male slaves. Those are simple laborers and are usually treated with sadistic cruelty, and are sometimes hunted and killed for sport. It’s actually the second class women and the breeder slaves who are the most cruel. The second class females go through their whole lives with resentment at not passing their warrior test, and take it out on the slaves. And the breeder slaves take out their anger at their enslavement on the lower slaves, beating them and sometimes even buggering them.” The officer shuddered at the thought.
“Most interesting,” said the Princess. “Since it’s the lower class women who seem to be the most fanatical and violent, it doesn’t look like we’ll be able to use class divisions either against the Amazon power structure. Thank you, Major. You’ve been most informative. You are dismissed.”
“Thank you, milady.” The officer bowed and left the room. Katarina sat on her bed for a long time, thinking. Defeating these Amazons was not going to be easy, if it was even possible.
The Princess met with her senior officers again later that day. “We are going to make some changes,” she announced. “Too much of what we’ve been doing hasn’t been working. First of all, all infantry officers will instruct their men to fire at will in battle instead of firing volleys, which are too easy for the Amazons to dodge by doing timed backflips. Second, our armor. We’re getting rid of it. It can’t stop Amazon arrows from their longbows, it can’t stop bolts from their crossbows, and it can’t stop spears thrown by their powerful female arms. All it’s doing is slowing us down. Without it, we’ll be much faster both marching and riding. Cavalrymen will keep their shields. Any rider who somehow managed to survive the last battle with a cheap wooden shield is strongly urged to purchase a metal one instead.”
“Now, to the issue of command structure and rank. Those of you who reached your positions through nepotism, cronyism, or corruption, and you know who you are, hear this. You may be able to get away with the things you do on the mainland. But out here, there is no room for incompetence. I will be posting a list of officers whose rank has changed. Some of you will be promoted, and some demoted. If anyone has any objection to these changes and feels it is an insult to their honor, I am accepting challenges.”
As she had expected, there was quite a bit of grumbling among the officers who had been reduced in rank. Two former lieutanant colonels who had been busted down to major took her up on her offer and challenged her to duels. She chose pistols as the first weapon. Showing off her speed and markswomanship, Katarina shot her opponent in the hand before he could even take aim, causing him to drop his weapon with a cry of pain. For the second fight, she went with swords. She parried her attacker’s first swing easily, stunned him with a backflip kick to the face, and swiftly pressed her blade against his throat. After that, both officers humbly accepted their new positions, and there were no more challenges. The fat colonel (remember him?) who had objected to girls being made defenders of the city had been busted all the way down to private. He had blustered and threatened louder than anyone else, but hadn’t had the balls to challenge her. Everyone who had had to serve under him was overjoyed at his demotion, as he had been utterly incompetent and a total asshole.
TEN DAYS LATER
The scouts had returned, reports had been made, battle plans had been drawn up. The massive Royalist army was assembled in the main square of the Colonial Capital, standing at attention as Princess Katarina addressed them. “The day you have been waiting for has arrived!” she shouted. “It is time to reclaim the land that our forefathers paid for with their blood. Today, we march! As we planned earlier, we will divide our forces in two. I will personally command the first army, which will advance to the northwest, where the scouts reported that the largest force of Amazons is located. The other will be commanded by General Norton. His army will sweep towards the southwest, liberating our towns and neutralizing any Amazon forces they encounter along the way. Now advance, in the name of the King!” The soldiers let out a loud cheer.
Katarina’s army advanced cautiously towards the northwest, deeper into the interior of the island and away from the safety and familiarity of the coast. Knowing what the Amazons were capable of and having seen their feminine handiwork up close and personal, the men couldn’t help feeling nervous. It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining, and the birds were singing. Yet the cold fear was still there. Only the presence of Princess Katarina saved morale from getting too low. She rode from place to place along the long column of marching men, sometimes in the front, sometimes in the rear, speaking with them, checking if everything was okay, making sure that any problems that arose were nipped in the bud.
Right now, she was riding ahead of the main column with a scouting force of about fifty cavalrymen. She liked to spend as much time as she could with the scouts without neglecting her responsibilities to the rest of the army. She liked to know what was going on, what was coming up ahead.
As the trees on either side grew taller and thicker, she frowned. “I don’t like this, Captain,” she said to the scout commander. “The forest is getting so dense. It would be so easy for the Amazons to ambush us here.”
“The woods extend all across this part of the island, milady. There’s really no getting around them.”
“I understand, Captain. Still, we’d better be on extra alert until the trees thin out.”
“With respect, milady, I don’t expect an ambush here. We’re still relatively close to the coast, and our force is so large. I doubt the Amazons would bring an army of their own large enough to make an impact on us so far from their own lines.”
“Still, I just have this feeling…” She suddenly froze, stopping her horse. “Listen.”
“I don’t hear anything.”
“That’s just it. The birds. They’ve stopped singing.” She shouted as loudly as her feminine, musical voice would carry. “AMBUSH! WE’RE UNDER ATTACK!”
Even as she spoke, the arrows came flying. Katarina’s shout saved many lives, as men raised their shields or took cover behind the wagons. It could only do so much, however, and many Royalist soldiers still fell, arrows sticking out of their bodies. Then it got worse. Artillery, captured by the Amazons, began booming. More men fell, the grapeshot and canister taken from the King’s army doing devastating damage to the very forces that had invented it.
The Princess forced herself to remain calm. She saw men panicking all around her, some firing wildly into the trees, some curling up on the ground, simply waiting to be impaled with an arrow or blown apart by cannon fire. She knew she had to act fast. She began screaming orders, hoping to save as many of her men as she could. “Infantry! Don’t just sit there! Odd numbered companies, advance into the woods and flush them out! Don’t fire unless you have a target! Even numbered companies, guard the supplies and stay covered by the wagons! Cavalry, ride with me! For the King, for the land!”
All along the column, men sprang into action. Remembering their training and fighting their fear, the strong leadership of the Princess reminded them that curling up into a ball was not the best way to go. The Royalist infantry began advancing. Men were still falling from arrows and cannon fire, but the lines did not break.
Katarina issued fresh orders to her cavalry. “Six companies of riders,” she called out, pointing to the commanders of each. “Ride around and double back. Try to trap the enemy between yourselves and our infantry. The other four companies, follow me. We’re going straight for the Amazon artillery.”
The Amazon girls firing the cannons, gleefully laughing as each shot resulted in horrified male screams in the distance, were shocked to see four hundred male riders, led by a woman, burst out of the woods and charge straight for them. Katarina, her pistol in her right hand, fired both barrels, killing two girls who were about to light the fuses to cannons. The men joined in, firing their pistols and carbines, dropping more Amazons. Some of the artillerywomen managed to turn and fire their big guns, blowing a few dozen men and horses to pieces, but the charge had been too sudden and swift to be stopped.
A band of girl-archers that had been placed nearby for just such an occasion fired a volley, killing several men in the front line of cavalry who couldn’t get their shields up in time. The Amazons took the opportunity to begin doing their trademark back handsprings to retreat, elegantly backflipping like pro-gymnasts to their horses, which they quickly mounted and rode away. The Royalists only managed to shoot down a few of the flick-flacking, difficult to hit women, and the horses were well out of range before the men could get the cannons turned around.
Katarina turned to an officer next to her. “Stay here until you can have infantry called up to guard the cannons. Even then, don’t pursue the Amazons, they’ll be long gone. Just secure the area. I’m going to help our men in the woods.” With that, she rode off, reloading her pistol as her horse galloped.
The battle in the forest was brutal and bloody. An Amazon could get four or five shots off with her bow for each shot a Royalist musketeer could fire. Still, the men preferred shooting at a distance, because in hand-to-hand combat the girl warriors could literally slice males to pieces with their swords before the men could even try to make a stab with their bayonets. The Royalist infantry was losing, being slowly pushed back, until their cavalry suddenly appeared on the other side of the Amazons. Not wanting to be trapped, the female fighters moved swiftly to the south, away from both the Royalist infantry and cavalry, to escape, firing arrows to cover their retreat.
Just as Katarina was about to reach the trees, a lone Amazon burst of of the woods, running. She hurled an axe at the princess, who got her shield up just in time. The weapon buried itself in the shield with a THUNK. Katarina continued her charge, simply trampling the girl underneath her horse.
Amazons were retreating, swiftly but not panicking. Katarina shot two of them dead with her pistol, then rode through them, slaying several of them with her sword, dodging spears thrown at her, and blocking arrows with her shield. She met up with her cavalry officers in a small clearing. In the distance came the sound of muskets still firing and arrows still whooshing.
“How was it?” she asked. At the edge of the clearing, a male soldier had been pinned to a tree by an arrow through his heart. Next to him was a pile of arms, legs, torsos, and heads – it was difficult to tell how many men they had belonged to.
“Bad, but it could have been a lot worse. They ran when they saw us about to close the trap. It was a near run thing, our boys were losing.”
She nodded. “Get the wounded to the wagons and secure the area. When it’s safe, we’ll bury the dead.”
Livia and Jenova, the Amazon princesses, stood by the large command tent, watching as the female army that had been sent to ambush the Royalists came riding up. The leader of the strike force dismounted and bowed to the princesses. “My Ladies.”
“How did the battle go? Did you annihilate them?” Livia asked eagerly.
“Um…not exactly, my Princess. We got them good at first, but instead of sitting there and waiting to be slaughtered they actually found their balls and counterattacked. It was their female leader, she was the one who gave them that strength. Then we were beating them again, but their cavalry appeared behind us and we had to retreat to avoid being trapped. The good news is that our casualties were relatively light and we killed a lot more of theirs than they killed ours.”
“Where are the cannons?” Livia demanded.
“I’m sorry, milady. We had to leave them behind.”
“I see.” Livia turned her back, then, in a lightning move, drew her sword and brutally decapitated the girl!
Jenova grabbed her sister’s arm. “What the fuck are you doing?! This is not the Amazon way!”
Livia shook Jenova off. “It is MY way, and I am the heiress to the throne! This fool committed the ultimate sin! She let herself be run off by a group of MALES! That is unforgivable! And to add insult to injury, she lost ten cannons to the enemy! Not only that, but those males may be becoming less scared of us! We rely on our reputation as invincible goddesses to strike fear into the hearts of men before battle even begins! Do you know how much weaker we will be if we lose that?”
“In all fairness, sister, they were led by a woman. It’s not like she lost to a male commander. Anyway, you can’t just execute an Amazon warrior without trial. The Queen will not approve.”
“We shall see what the Queen approves. You do not speak for her, little sister. Now let’s get back to business. I guess the old saying is true. If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. I will personally command the next attack. Now here’s what we’re going to do…”
The Royalist army had made camp for the night. The sentries were on double duty. Katarina turned to her chief of staff. “Do you have the count?”
“Yes, milady. Five hundred of our men are dead. Three hundred more are wounded too badly to fight, and will have to be evacuated to our nearest fort. Enemy casualties were relatively light, maybe 150 or 200 dead, but we recaptured all ten cannons they used in the ambush.”
The Princess nodded. “The men also now know that the Amazons are not invincible goddesses, and it is possible to survive an ambush by them. They are human. Extremely strong, fast, and lethal humans, but still just humans. That’s the good news. The bad news is that they are very swift at learning from their mistakes. I fully expect us to be ambushed again before we reach Amazon territory, and it will be more clever next time.”
Katarina saw several men gulp. She tried to give them an encouraging smile. Overhead, the once clear, starry sky was clouding up. Thunder rumbled ominously in the distance.
THE END…for now