Friday, May 29, 2009

Presaging a chapter in Absolved . . .

Thanks to gunrights4us.


Qi Ji Guang said...

Flamethrowers are powerful tools, and they had been around far longer than guns and gunpowder.
I was hoping I would see a chapter on that in Absolved.
The flamethrower has an effect that guns and bullets often do not have: The sheer demoralizing effects of the firestorm, as could be evidenced by the routing of repeated Ottoman assaults on Constantinople by the Byzantine fire ships.

During the Tang Dynasty, we had something called "fire wasps."
They are regular arrows which have a pouch of nitrated kerosene attached to where the broadhead is supposed to be. The kerosene in that pouch is jellified into a whip-cream like consistency with saltpeter.

In 645 AD, the Imperial Army of the Tang Dynasty, led by Emperor Tang Taizong, went up against a powerful Chitan cavalry force near what is present-day Hoeryong, North Korea. The Chitan were one of the many satellite tribes of the Mongols, and like the Mongols, they were fierce warriors, and almost invincible on horseback. For several hours, the Tang and Chitan forces watched each other across the giant stone battlements that was Fort Goguryeo.
Amongst the Chitan cavalry were also lines of elite Korean infantry armed with halberds and spears, impressed into service by the Chitan, who, by that time, have already conquered most of Korea.

Then, the Chitan charged. With their short, compact composite bows, which had far more range and power than the Tang bows, the charging Chitan horsemen loosed several volleys which cut into the Chinese lines like scythe. However, the Tang army stood firm, and each archer drew a fire wasp from his quiver. Using slow burning rope matches, the archers lit the fuses on the fire wasps. Thousands of smoldering fire wasps were nocked on bows up and down the Chinese line.
"KAI HUO!" The order to fire was given.
The fire wasps left the bows with a deafening whistle, each one trailing a thin string of smoke behind them as they arched high into the sky, then downward towards the rapidly approaching Chitan horsemen, who by that time, were unsheating their swords and closing in for the kill.
At first, the effect of the impact of the Tang arrows were minute, most of the head-less arrows embedding themselves into the Chitan troops' armor. A couple of seconds later, however, incredible, silent blossoms of white fire erupted from the charging Chitan line. Thousands of white flowers bloomed forth with no sound except for a faint whisper, then turning into yellow, and then a fiery red, as the balls of fire curled towards the sky ringed with clouds of black smoke. Liquid fire pulsated across armor and wearer like some surreal, alien jellyfish. The charging Chitan cavalry was literally incinerated. The Chitan's Great Khan, watching from a distance, saw the charge being decimated, then, he made the most foolish decision, to send in the Korean infantry and archers to match the Tang arrow for arrow.

The second campaign was also a disaster. Before the infantry had advanced to significant distance, they had been incinerated by volley after volley of fire wasps.
The first Chitan campaign to dissolve the Tang Dynasty had failed.

Qi Ji Guang said...

(Continued from above)

Despite the fire wasps and their awesome power however, the Tang would later face a disastrous defeat at the hands of the Chitan, during the reign of Empress Wu Zeti.
In time, the Chitan would penetrate deep into China itself, and establish the Jin Dynasty in 1100 AD, but the legend of the Tang fire arrow would continue.

In 1232, during the Mongol siege of the Chitan imperial city of Kaifeng-nu, Chitan and Han defenders on the city's battlements fired massive volleys of fire wasps into the charging Mongols. This time, the fire arrows accompanied another terrifying weapon that almost routed the Mongols. With the flaming white blossoms of the fire arrows also came the deafening rolls of thunder, the clouds of choking smoke reeking of sulphur.
Kaifeng-nu withstood almost 30 repeated assaults before the Mongols broke through the gates of the castle and sacked the city. In time, the gunpowder techology of Kaifeng-nu and the Jin Dynasty would be assimilated by the Mongols for their campaigns across the steppes of Central Asia.

chris horton said...

That's excellent!!!!


Anonymous said...

Just think of us as the Chlorine in the Gene-Pool 8-)

Anonymous said...

Speaking of there a expected release date yet?

Also, I just received word that Matt Bracken has finished the final book in the "Enemies Trilogy", and the books are available for order directly from him, or other sources including Amazon.

Eric said...

Come on Mike, quit teasing us and finish the book already!!! ;-), I wanna see what I look like on the cover! III

Defender said...

The field manual shows how the firestream can be bounced off walls into suspected enemy hiding places around corners without exposing oneself to enemy ... uh, fire.
One of the funniest scense ever in a movie was, I think, one of the National Lampoon Vacation series. Clark Griswold complains about some matter with the city. Helpful moron Cousin Eddie goes to the city office to lean on them. When will this be taken care of, he asks.
"Hard to say."
"Hard to say," Eddie echoes. "Hard to say...
It's just as funny the 10th time.

45superman said...

Now that's the "Torch of Liberty"!