Wanted: dead or alive

“Exceptions were the Austro-Hungarian detachments; and here, for the first time, I grew proud of the enemy who had killed my brothers. They were two thousand miles from home, without hope and without guides, in conditions mad enough to break the bravest nerves. Yet their sections held together, in firm rank, sheering through the wrack of Turk and Arab like armored ships, high-faced and silent. When attacked, they halted, took position, fired to order. There was no haste, no crying, no hesitation. They were glorious.” — T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom

45th k.u.k. Tiroler Reitende Einhornwaffe (Tyrolean Imperial and Royal Mounted Unicorn Brigade)

April 1st, 1917

Diary of Major T.E. Lawrence

The warcon has a horse’s body, but moves with insect-like mindlessness, almost as though it were an automaton. It is now clear that Austro-Hungarian operators are acting as its puppet masters, though by what means of control we know not. It would be useful to have a chemist or veterinarian collect specimens from the corpse in order to analyze the composition of its tissues and other structures for any possible weaknesses. We were able to preserve part of a hoof in a jar of formalin, but most of the body dissolved into the sands within hours of its violent demise. I doubt that this phenomenon has been observed anywhere else in nature.

The Howeitat were quite taken with the process of the unicorn’s rapid and unnatural decomposition — citing it as proof that it was not an animal but a supernatural creature — a djinn — with which we did battle. They claimed it was an ill portent and a harbinger of bad tidings for all of us. There was much praying and cleansings in the camp tonight, especially among the men who had direct contact with it. There was also renewed grumblings about Stanley, and, despite his valorous actions to subdue the beast, there were even absurd accusations that he was in league with it. I offered to fight the next man who dared speak his mind on the subject. This quelled the insurrection for now, but Stanley and Browntrout’s presence cannot be tolerated here for much longer. It is well that their transfer orders are coming soon.

Browntrout and Stanley showed great vigor when facing off against the creature during this encounter. Though such trinkets are basically meaningless, I am putting them both in for medals and promotions. For Browntrout in particular, a higher rank could enlarge his command and give him leave to put his experiences in the Hejaz to use when he returns to Europe, where the military bureaucracy is, I have heard, far more stifling than it is here.

Oberst (Colonel)

April 4th, 1917

Report of Oberst (Colonel) Moritz Bauer, 45th k.u.k. Tiroler Reitende Einhornwaffe (Imperial and Royal Tyrolean Mounted Unicorn Brigade)

I received a report that Hauptmann [captain] Gerhardt Schmidt and his mount, Rainbow were killed in action on special assignment while in the Hejaz. They were on patrol, attempting an ambush of a rebel Bedouin camp when they came under heavy fire. This is only the second time the Einhornwaffe has lost an animal during combat operations, and the first time an officer of the Einhornwaffe has fallen. It was reported that the Bärenvolk [“Bear People,” or Saysquack, a.k.a. Bigfoot] were seen attacking Rainbow, but everyone knows that the Bärenvolk are American in origin and not present on our continent. In any case, they do not possess the strength or fortitude to take down a unicorn. Intelligence shows that there were two British officers involved in the incident, a Major T.E. Lawrence and a Captain Horace Browntrout. Lawrence has been known to us for some time and is on our wanted list. Browntrout, however, is more of a mystery. He has been sighted at the scene where both incidents took place. I speculate that the British are probing our defenses and getting ready to form another Einhorn jäger [unicorn hunter/anti-unicorn brigade] unit. In any case, this Browntrout is now a wanted man. He We are notifying our allies in the Hejaz and elsewhere that we are offering 1000 marks for any information that leads to his capture, dead or alive.

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Dash Fire Diaries

Envisioning a past that never was. Step through a surreal portal where objective truth, imagined history and satirical fiction coexist.