Tweet of the Day: Hook the Reader With a Sneak Peek
New year, new season of Wizards’ World War, my Urban Fantasy serial. Last season a group of American magi managed to stop the ever growing conflict between their kind and elements of the U.S. government. But while one fire simmers another roars across the Atlantic. Wales is in full revolt. Magic and mundane forces led by the self-styled “Prince of Wales” have taken temporary control of the country. British forces mass along the Welsh border while skirmishes across Wales continue.
Redwick, South Gloucestershire, UK, 12 December, 08:45 hrs local
The 28/143 Battery of 19th Regiment Royal Artillery, better known as Tomb’s Troop set up their fourth firing position in three days on an open field north of the Severn Bridge. From there the guns fired a steady stream of shells across the river. Captain Rivers cursed under his breath. His men worked the howitzers as fast as possible to keep up with the fire requests from SAS teams in Wales. Most of the Army had already pulled out and only units like this one were fighting back against the insurgents.
River’s book sunk into the ground.
“Bloody fucking hell!” he shouted, loud enough to compete with the crack of the tubes firing their loads.
He knew that by mid morning the snow would thaw and under the constant pressure of the cannonade it would turn into brown gray soup unfit for man or machine. The crews went through the motions: take the target coordinates, verify them, lug and load the heavy shells, stand clear, pull the lanyard and fire. By this time the whole process had lost any meaning to the Captain. He could not tell the difference between the sharp report of the guns from the babble on the battery’s radios or the constant stream of instructions yelled back and forth between the crews.
Sergeant Mays handed him a steaming cup of tea.
“Hot?” asked Rivers.
“Won’t be for long in this awful cold, Sir,” said Mays with a lopsided grin.
Rivers downed the beverage in one long gulp, “Thanks.”
“I reckon no Gunner has seen this type of action since the days of Bonnie Prince Charlie–,Sir” said the Sergeant. A gloved hand hovered his cup to protect the contents from the unusually bitter cold.
The gap in the Sergeant’s words told the Captain all that he needed to know. Not since the Jacobite’s rebellion had British cannon fired on their own citizens. Be they rebels or bystanders. The irony of history both past and precent did not escape the men, both born north of the border.
“We didn’t start this, Sergeant,” said Rivers.
“Aye, Sir,” replied the NCO.
Rivers eyes focused on small convoy moving north along New Passage Road, “Seems the rest of the troop finally caught up–” Three massive explosions erupted from underneath the convoy. Giant fountains of earth and pavement went up through the air. Rivers joined the others in taking cover inside their vehicles. As the dust settled, fires burned along the road.
“IEDs!” screamed Mays.
“I noticed–” another sound, a familiar whistle came from across the river. “Incoming! Get inside now! Drivers, get us out of here!” Hatches snapped shut. Dirt and shrapnel plunked against the self-propelled artillery armor. Minutes seemed like hours as the tracks made their way through the snow covered fields. Rivers opened the top hatch to get a send of direction. He only saw another AS-90 rolling along side his own. Behind him bright sparks and white smoke marked the death of of the third gun and its crew.
Eleven men lost in a single counterstrike. Culloden was a one sided affair. But years of combat across the globe told Rivers that this would be anything but.