Sunlight streamed into my sarcophagus
September 2nd, 1917
Diary of Hauptman (captain) Johann Wolf, 16. k.u.k. Sondereinsatzbrigade Alpeneinhorn, Trupp D (Imperial and Royal Special Mountain Unicorn Brigade)
As I write I am a prisoner in the enemy special force’s camp. I am too injured to walk. They have treated me well and carried me this far. Their commander is a doctor, a good man, but soft, very soft.
I thought I had set an excellent trap for Browntrout’s Bicycle Brigade. For one thing, our intelligence indicated that they would be riding bicycles, so we anticipated they would be far more encumbered than we were, on our surefooted warcorn mounts. I knew the area well, so I out-flanked them and set up an ambush on the side of a trail through a high-mountain pass. There was deep snow on both sides, and plenty of cover from tall pines.
The deserters from the 45th came into view first, but we let them pass to give the rest of the unit time to walk into the jaws of our trap. Then, as I gave the signal and we started firing, the cowards began to panic and retreat, just as we thought they would. We leapt from behind our positions, and gave chase along the narrow trail. Just as we passed under a high-walled cliff our quarry disappeared. Shots starting raining down from above us in a withering enfilading fire! The only other officer in our unit and two noncommissioned officers were killed immediately. Several dragoons were wounded. I was wounded too, having taken a round through my shoulder.
The ledge was too big for the warcorns to fit underneath and so they were exposed to the fusillade and we could see each round thudding into their tough hides. The echoes of reports and bullets ricocheting off of rocks was deafening. We were as rabbits in a small hole, so I ordered the remaining men to retreat to the shelter of the woods, away from the shadow of the cliffs. But the enemy was prepared for this; they had set up a machine gun at the far end of the trail, blocking our only means of escape. Here, I must compliment the men. Everyone kept their heads. No one complained or panicked.
I also have to compliment the enemy for their boldness. I knew they were in the area, but I wouldn’t have expected them to attack us so close to our mountain fortress. I pulled out a signal flare from my saddlebag. Whatever happened to us now, the hunt was over for these fiends. I thought they would not enjoy their victory for long. All the Einhornwaffe units in the area were on high alert and would see my flare and race to our aid.
Just as I aimed the flare gun and cocked the trigger, I heard a terrible explosion and felt an earthquake. Avalanche! I saw several men and their warcorns get swept away in the terrible white sea before I too was dragged forward and buried. It only took seconds. I heard muffled screams. I was not deep below the surface. Sunlight streamed into my cold, cottony sarcophagus. I could feel my warcorn, Noodles struggling to free herself. Half of my face felt numb, damp. Thoughts of home came to me, of harvesting wheat with Papa, my first Almabtrieb (Autumn cow train), and the first lager beer I shared with a brown cow called Zeitgeist.
I closed my eyes and patted Noodles gently. It was now alright to die.
September 1st, 1917
Diary of Theodore Roosevelt
In our first action behind enemy lines, we bushwhacked them de-lightfully! Shackleton dug a snow tunnel on the cliffside, which Burnham crawled through above us with a stick of dynamite in his teeth. With his eagle’s eye, Alain Quatermain hunkered down in the best sniping position, high above the avalanche chute. I took up a position directly on the trail, cutting off the enemy patrol with the Lewis gun. Browntrout — nervous ninny that he is — was afraid the machine gun would jam, so he stood over me like a mother hen the whole time. I think he was being a spoil sport and was afraid of me having too much fun!
The bastards chased us down the trail, but we quickly turned the tables as soon as we had them where we wanted them. At Browntrout’s signal, we let them have it. Burnham’s expertise as a scout came in handy, for he had buried me in leaf litter, camouflaging me perfectly until I was ready to strike. The mounted troops fired back at us, but only weakly so.
When we were sure we had them pinned down under the cliff, Burnham detonated the dynamite, triggering the avalanche. I made sure I was well out of the way of it as all the fury and force of Mother Nature came hurtling down the mountain to bury our enemy. Jumping Jehoshaphat, was it ever a sight to behold! I was wistful that it was over so quickly, for now there was no one left to shoot at and here I was with two more full pans of ammunition. I wish I could have done it all: long-range sniping, detonating the dynamite and the machine-gunning. Oh well, there will surely be more excitement to come.
Browntrout had us pluck two survivors from the enemy unit out of the snow. One died almost as soon as we pulled him to safety. The other is still alive — only by Browntrout’s good graces. Were it up to me, he’d be dead and buried. We can ill afford to be dragging severely wounded enemy soldiers all over the Tyrolean countryside. It would be good to get some information out of him — he appears to be an officer and likely the commander of the dragoons that attacked us — but he is out cold and useless to us. We need to move forward.
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