Written for Picture It & Write. A story about a clash of magic and technology begins after the photo.
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
It had been one year since Rear Admiral Leary’s CSG (Carrier Strike Group) and one MEU (Marine Expeditionary Unit) entered a strange black storm and they arrived in this strange world. After all that time in a primitive land, Leary was still a lousy horseman.
He looked over at Colonel Braxton with envy. The Marine commander of the MEU was raised on a farm and felt perfectly at home on a horse. Leary was a Navy man, through and through. Raised in New York, the only thing he ever rode as a boy was the subway. He reigned in the horse poorly at the top of the hill and breathed a sigh of relief. The jolting could end.
He made a quick call on the radio to Captain Harmon aboard the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and confirmed everything was ready. To his left, Colonel Braxton finished a similar call. He nodded that his units were ready. A half mile away down the hill, 5,000 men in leather armor and furs wielding spears, axes, and swords gathered to do battle. They banged their shields and screamed threats at the two men.
Leary sighed. “I don’t need this shit.”
Braxton grinned knowingly. “None of us do. We’ve got more important things to be doing.”
It was true. After arriving in this parallel universe, they realized they were in a medieval version of Norfolk, Virginia, without any of the support a modern military needs to keep going. They had to expand the mines to find iron ore. They finally got a crude steel mill going, and they found oil. They still had to pump mass amounts out and refine it into fuel or the ships would stop sailing and the planes would cease to fly. There were a thousand things they required to keep going and all of it needed to be made from scratch. The biggest problem was food. Between the Navy and Marines, they had nearly 10,000 mouths to feed. Agriculture practices in this land was poor at best. Nearly a third of the sailors and marines became farmers overnight.
And now the medieval, land-hungry kingdom of Karglund wanted a war.
Six horsemen rode out from the 5,000 screaming barbarians. They faced Leary and Braxton at the hilltop overlooking the wide bay below. King Ulterius, a large man in bear furs and bedecked with gems, dismounted and stepped forward. “It is time,” he boomed confidently. “Swear fealty to the kingdom of Karglund, and I will spare the lives of your people.”
Leary sighed. “Your Majesty. We’ve gone over this before. We don’t want to fight you…”
“Then give me your fealty now!” bellowed Ulterious.
“…And we’re not swearing fealty to anyone. Just go home and call it a day, okay?”
“You cannot defeat us. I’ve seen your army with my own eyes. They have no armor and they are armed with mere staves.”
Leary gave Braxton a questioning look. Braxton smirked and said, “He’s talking about the M16-A4 assault rifles. He thinks they’re sticks.”
Leary rolled his eyes. “Alright, let’s just clear things up a little.” He got on the radio. “Lieutenant. One low pass right over their heads.” Seconds later, two Marine F-35Bs screamed past the barbarian troops just 100 feet above their heads. The horde’s screams of anger turned to wails of fright. Perhaps a hundred of them broke ranks and ran. To their officer’s credit, most remained in place like disciplined troops, albeit petrified ones.
“Two dragons is not enough,” said another from the Karglund contingent. He wore animal skins patched together. His narrow face was painted in black. Small skulls ringed his neck, and a human skull dangled from his waist.
“My wizard, Gengrigon,” said King Ulterious, grinning confidently.
Gengrigon held up a crude tiara made of rainbow-colored crystals. His eyes bugged out with fanaticism. “Behold! I bear the Crown of Oortinon!” The others in the Karglund contingent looked down and opened their arms in reverence. Even the king did this.
Braxton spoke to Gengrigon as though to a child. “It’s very pretty.”
Seeing they weren’t impressed, Gengrigon menaced them with it. “The Crown of Oortinon!”
“Your breath stinks,” said Leary.
Scowling, Gengrigon placed the crown on his head in dramatic fashion. He spoke an incantation. The crown began to glow and its light poured like a river across his body. He spoke one final word with his arms extended to their army. Light shot from his hands and engulfed the barbarian horde. In seconds, they all began roaring like lions as they grew half again larger. Their muscles bulged enormously and their swords grew into giant implements of destruction. The horde of barbarians became a horde of giants.
“Now that is a really cool trick,” said Braxton admiringly.
“You see? Twenty arrows cannot kill one of them. My army cannot be defeated!” roared King Ulterious. “On your knees!”
Leary consulted his watch. “Yeah, I think it’s time to wrap this up.” He keyed his radio once more. “Freeman. Execute Operation Peacemaker.”
Four F-18F Super Hornets screamed out of the skies.
“You have more dragons?” said Ulterious.
“I’ve got LOTS more, and I’m not using arrows on your men.” The Hornets released 8 1000 lb bombs. The weapons were devastating enough against dispersed modern troops. Against troops massed in a tight formation, the weapons were appalling. The tightly packed horde disappeared in fire and smoke. Body parts and medieval weapons flew in all directions. By the time the smoke cleared, perhaps 500 of the barbarians remained alive. Those that lived, wandered as though drunk, blood streaming from their ears.
Ulterious looked at Leary in horror.
“OKAY?” shouted Leary impatiently. “My wizard is better than yours. Can we have peace now?”
As the King and his cohorts fled in terror, Braxton said, “Well, I think that was a productive meeting.”
Here is this week’s Picture It & Write prompt: http://ermiliablog.wordpress.com/2014/01/26/__picture-it-write-74/