|The Jam'aah Valley, looking north toward the town.|
Captain Pike disposed his troops as planned. Number 2 section under CSM Harrington shook out into skirmish order and approached the first rocky hill on the right as the main body moved up the dirt road into the valley.
|In the town, the slavers go about their foul business, watched by the Wali himself.|
|More goods - human and material - for market; but who's the European man chatting with the slaver?|
|The Men of Barsetshire see their destination through the heat haze.|
|They have also been spotted. Native allies of the slavers move through the town, ready to be deployed as the Wali decides.|
CSM Harrington eyed the hill. "Be ready, lads," he said. "There's something moving up there."
Over on the far left, Sergeant Rutledge led his askaris toward the western hills. He knew the British soldiers had a poor opinion of the troops he commanded, and was determined to prove the askaris' worth in battle.
|A keen-eyed observer keeps watch on the distant Red Soldiers.|
As Number 2 section approached the hill, robed figures stood up from where they'd hidden amongst the rocks. A wild fusillade broke out and a man dropped in the Barsetshire ranks. "Fire at will!" Harrington roared. Soon gunsmoke filled the air as a brisk exchange of fire broke out.
A similar scenario played out over to the left. The askaris had better cover than the Barsetshire men, and it proved its worth as they traded shots with the slavers.
To the north the town gates of Jam'aah swung open to allow the tribal warband through. Chief Ngutyana halted his warriors and took stock of the situation opening down the road. The Red Soldiers of the Great White Queen had a reputation for destroying her enemies in brisk fashion, and he thought over ways to counter them.
Harrington's men had difficulty picking out the enemy warriors as they moved nimbly across the rocky hill. Bullets found their mark on both sides - but help for the Barsetshire men was on its way.
Over at the main body Pike seized up the situation. "Form line! Make ready! Preee-sent! Fire!" A regular volley crashed out, peppering the distant figures with Martini-Henry rounds. Close by, Havildar Shukla brought up his gun and unlimbered it on the flank of the main body. Loading the seven pound shell and taking aim took but moments. With a final check that all stood ready, the Naik took up the slack on the lanyard, tugged, and -
- The shell exploded right on target.
* * * *
The account of the Action in the Jam'aah Valley will continue soon.
"You can go where you please, you can skid up the trees,
But you don't get away from the guns!" ~ Rudyard Kipling, Screw Guns.