One small step - Part 2

By madmed (Tipped by 2 people!)

 

(Recommended listening - The Caisson Song

    
One Small Step - Part 2
The Engines Go Rolling Along 
 
 
Over hill, over dale,
We will hit the dusty trail,
And the Engines go rolling along.
 
Up and down, in and out,
Counter march and left about,
And the Engines go rolling along,
 
For it's hi! hi! hee!!,
In the Field Artillery,
Shout out your numbers loud and strong,
 
For wher-e’er we go,
You will always know,
That the Engines go rolling along.
 
To be a son of Obsidio was to love the big Engines, the great siege engines that made it the power it was today. From the lowly Scorpio to the mighty Trebuchet, the making of all engines was it's specialty, and their deadly use was it's pride and joy. 
When led by a prince of the Obsidio, the Field Artillery could pick off a stray stabber, or hurl a boulder so incredibly high as to attack the garrison of an enemy city while it's walls were still up. 
Their armies were so proficient with the Engines, that they were no longer referred to as "Siege engines".  Many an open engagement was won through a timely barrage on vulnerable Leadership or other high value targets, or even by the slow attrition of infantry from range. The Engines' official name was "Artillery", and woe to the private that uttered the word "Siege" within hearing distance of his warlord.
That made Niccolo Tartaglia's failures all the worst.
To the front, day and night,
Where the stabbers dig and fight
And the Engines go rolling along.
 
Our barrage will be there,
Fired on the warlord's glare
While the Engines go rolling along.
 
For it's hi! hi! hee!!,
In the Field Artillery,
Shout out your numbers loud and strong,
 
For wher-e’er we go,
You will always know,
That the Engines go rolling along
 
 
Niccolo Loved the field artillery. Even since he was popped as a prince and warlord of the great kingdom of Obsidio, he longed to lead Artillery into battle. He had only one problem - his leadership score was abbysmal.
In other circumstances he would have probably have been disbanded, or at most sent to manage some dusty city somewhere. However, he had an unusual Special - he was a Savant, a form of limited mathmancer that could instantly do complex calculation. As such, he was attached to the staff of the army, and was usually put in charge of logistics. He saw a lot of action, but usually only from at least one Hex away. 

As he watched the armies march, practice and fight, he began to see that artilley, unlike other kinds of combat, was almost predictable, mathmatical in it's nature. he began to suspect the existence of rigid rules thar govern artilley fire.

 

 

With the cavalry, boot to boot
We will join in the pursuit
And the Engines go rolling along,
 
Action front! At a trot!
Volley fire rock and bolt!
While the Engines go rolling along.
For it's hi! hi! hee!!,
In the Field Artillery,
Shout out your numbers loud and strong,
For wher-e’er we go,
You will always know,
That the Engines go rolling along
 
Niccolo was frustrated by his lack of leadership, but more than that, ha was affronted by it. Every swaggering warlord, newly popped, could outperform him and his quick mind in the field. In the Field Artillery! It was the craft, even the science, of forces, momentums and impact. In such an orderly pursuit, surely he could find a way to shine?
 
The Chief warlord grew quite fond of him, and off-turn would often allow him to conduct his experiments. In fact he often came to watch them - he found it amusing. 
 
Niccolo tested and found exactly how far a shot would go if the arm was cocked just so, how much a wind would throw a shot out of place, and how to load and shot with as little time and as much accuracy as possible. Over many turns he painstakingly compiled all the figures he could. To his Chief's  amazement, he could now outperform any other officer during training in efficiency, accuracy and impact.
The chief was so impressed, that he let him direct the field artillery in their next battle.
Their defeat of spectacular. 
 
Should the foe penetrate
Ev’ry gunner lies in wait
And the Engines go rolling along
 
Fire at will, lay ‘em low
Never stop for any foe
While the Engines go rolling along 
 
For it's hi! hi! hee!!,
In the Field Artillery,
Shout out your numbers loud and strong,
For wher-e’er we go,
You will always know,
That the Engines go rolling along
 
Niccolo survived the battle, but was recalled with shame to court. At first the queen was furious with him and the former chief for the defeat, and it looked like their turns were numbered. However, the chief's tales of Niccolo's uncanny skill during practices spiked her interest. She arranged for a practice range in all the kingdom's various artillery Engines, and was amazed at Niccolo's proficiency with them. When asked to explain his failures, Niccolo only shrugged and said: "The missiles just didn't go where they were supposed to. I have no idea why."

The queen pardoned the former Chief, and sent him back to the lines. She also pardoned Niccolo, but he begged her not to send him to field. His failure, and the the units that croaked for it, were raw in his mind. Deeper than his failure as a leader was his complete and utter failure to understand how the Engines functioned in battle.
 
For many a turn he dwelt in the capital, assisted her majesty and her court. His gift for logistics landed him a roll as an assistant to the Royal Chancellor, advising on the running of cities and production of materials. His free time he spent in the library, idly going through ancient tomes, hoping to glimpse an understanding of the workings of the world.
 
It was during one of those times he flipped through an enormous tome, called "Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Narratia", by I. Zick Newton. As he read it, he felt as if he was seeing the world for the first time. It all made so much sense! He had to find if this was true. But the only way he could test it would be on the front lines.
 

 

But if fate me should call
And in action I should fall
Keep the Engines a rolling Along
 
Then in peace I’ll abide
When I take my final ride
On an Engine that’s Rolling Along 
For it's hi! hi! hee!!,
In the Field Artillery,
Shout out your numbers loud and strong,
For wher-e’er we go,
You will always know,
That the Engines go rolling along
 
His reputation preceded him, and at first no warlord would listen to his ideas. Finally it was the former Chief who welcomed him back, and gave him a chance to implement his new ideas.
His idea was simple - use the power of narrative to his advantage. There was a truism among the men - every arrow has a name. Niccolo engraved the names of high value targets on the bolts of the balistae that was  tasked with targeting them. The trebuchet tasked with tearing down the city's he made to look like Giant's arm, and the boulders were painted as giant rams. The Catapult that threw greek fire on advancing infantry was remade in the form a red dwagon.
The results were immediatly apperant. Niccolo could swear he could see the bolts changing their routs to better hit their targets, while the walls crumbled with half the time as usual.
Word was sent to all of Obsidio's warlords - Form creates Function. Balistics have as much to do with what seems right, as with precise calculations.Some warlords resisted implementing his ideas, but were soon eclipsed by the deeds of the "Niccolo's method" early adopters.  After a short testing period, and with Niccolo's endorcement, a Signamancer was offered a place in the kingdom, and helped reshape the engines to it's current formidable state,
 
Obsidio grew in power and strength dew to its newly upgraded army. Niccolo spent the rest of his life compiling all he knew about the fine art and subtle science of artillery, and with the Signmancer's help recorded it in a small volume that was given to any warlord freshly popped.
 
Niccolo had lost his ambition to lead men in the field, but the men honored him non-the-less, and he was known far and wide as the Father of Ballistics.
 
 
Battery - Halt!

 

previous part - The science of apple drops

next part - Wings of Imagination