From: (Johnny Mayall)
Newsgroups: talk.bizarre
Subject: Pale Riders
Followup-To: misc.test
Date: Mon, 01 Dec 1997 09:03:11 -0600
Organization: Eye-OOF!
Lines: 81
Message-ID: <>
Keywords: Anyone with a better title idea, lemme know.
X-Newsreader: Yet Another NewsWatcher 2.4.0

Across a field already marshy with the blood of the dead come before them,
two bodies of men observed each other.  Milling about the bottleneck pass
that they had successfully defended against a half dozen separate attacks
during two days and nights of almost constant fighting, the survivors of
Redhawk's Rangers celebrated their victories silently as they buried their
dead.  Now the invading army lay dead and rotting, broken on the teeth of
the mountains they sought entrance into.  

The rugged hillmen once gleamed with polish in their burnished mail and
crimson tabards.  The remaining remnant now hung tenaciously to their
battered fragments of armor, little lamenting the blood-stained condition
of their once prideful uniforms in the face of the fate of their brethren. 
Arrows were retrieved and lines were reformed as men once more prepared to
die to defend the land that their forefathers had bled for to attain.

Five hundred yards away, a double column of light horsemen split and formed
into two thin rows.  Pale faced riders on pale horses were twins in bland
gauntness, neither making any noise beyond the tramp of hoof and creak of
leather.  Their unremarkable grey surcoats seemed to blend in with the grey
predawn sky.  Belying the perfect discipline of mount and soldier were the
gaping holes and ragged tears in their surcoats and the tarnished condition
of their lances and sabers.  Trotting forward of the lines, the Captain of
the lancers planted the band's banner in the sodden earth.  The white
banner with its grey dog's head fluttered faintly, almost in a mocking
manner of its white-hawk-on-red counterpart across the battlefield. 
Pulling a silver whistle from the chain around his neck to his blue-lipped
mouth, the Captain blew one strident note.  The riders advanced at a walk.

At four hundred yards, another whistle prompted the lancers into a trot as
the Redhawk bowmen drew fletching to their ears.  At three hundred yards,
the bowmen let fly, sending yard-long shafts into both horseman and mount
with little apparent effect.  At one hundred yards, a third whistle cut
through the air, launching the riders into a lance-lowered charge.  Firing
once more at point blank range before the triple-row of pikemen closed
rank, the archers let loose a raw-throated howl, seemingly in defiance of
the ineffectiveness of their missle fire.

Without a word--and without an expression on any of their faces--the first
row of grey lancers hit the hedgehog of pikes.  Riders and horses were run
through, throwing bodies to and fro.  But their momentum carried the bodies
into the ranks, snapping polearms and bowling over defenders with their
weight.  The second line of light horsemen trampled over both their fallen
comrades and Rangers alike, breaking the cohesion of the ranks.  Dropping
their bows and drawing broadswards, the archers charged into the chaotic

Despite the failure of the bows and the breaking of the pike wall, the
Rangers were convinced of another victory, particularly since they
outnumbered their opponents by almost three to one.  Against normal
soldiers, they would have been correct.

Slack-faced automatons pulled themselves along the length of the pikes
impaling them to claw out the bluging eyes of their disbelieving enemies. 
Riderless horses pincushioned with arrows roamed the field, crushing skulls
with cruel hooves.  Grey-clad horsemen ignored mortal blows as they hacked
their way through the defenders with blood soaked sabers.  Unhorsed and
legless, downed lancers still dragged Rangers to the ground, spilling their
entrails with barbed daggers rammed through mail and yanked back out again. 
Headless corpses still walked the field, flailing wildly about.

Amid the banshee wails of death, a few bands of Rangers still fought,
ganging up on a rider to pin both him and his horse to the ground with
polearms and chaopping them to bits with their heavy broadswords.  But they
were too few too late as the walking dead began to outnumber the living.  A
brave defense turned into a panicked rout, and emotionless riders cut their
opponents down as they turned to flee.

Hours later as the screams of the dying were but a small pittance compared
to the dull sound of sabers repeatedly chopping into flesh, the Captain
rode forth once more to blow his silver whistle.  As one, the grey riders
stopped, turning to face their master.  Another whistle led the still
mobile lancers to form into two columns almost as large as before the
massacre.  A final strident note, and the horsemen abandoned the field,
leaving the land to embrace its dead.

Pavlov's Dogsoldiers ride again.


 But the lies we live will always be confessed in the stories that we tell.
                                          -Orson Scott Card