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March 2

In 1836, on this day in Agua Dulce Creek, Coahuila y Tejas Province, the sun was gradually creeping over the far hilltops, but it wasn't likely to obscure the vision of the waiting cavalry.

Bienvenidos a California!The leading dragoon shifted slightly in his saddle, so that the branch of a tree shaded his eyes from the slowly brightening rays. But the light of the sun had an advantage- on the road winding past the base of the gently sloping hill, the Texans were clearly visible.

Fifty-one, fifty-two, fifty-three men, marching with little order down the road. Fifty-three rebel Texans on the road, fifty-three men in contempt of the laws of the land and of their superiors. The dragoon's lip curled. He ran his fingers along the handle of his sabre, stroking the cold metal and then slowly tightening his grip around it. The rest of his company was similarly waiting, men and horses tense before the coming uproar, awaiting one thing only.

A sudden bugle sounded two harsh cries, each echoed in the valley by a Texan voice:

The dragoon spurred his black horse forward, and with a great sweep of his hand drew his long, steel sabre, which flashed red in the early sunlight as it hissed round in front of him. He lowered the point of the blade, steadying his hand despite the jarring motion as his horse, among forty others, pressed down the slope, and aimed the sword directly at his target- the one Texan he could see wearing a dark blue soldier's uniform. Those riders to his right and left recognised their captain's signal from the corner of their eyes, and knew what he meant. The Texan commander was his kill.

The victim was hurriedly trying to bring about some semblance of order among his men, pressing them to form firing lines and bring down some the onrushing horses before they were upon them, but to little avail. Fifty yards, forty, thirty, twenty, ten.

In a vicious, scything arc the dragoon slashed his sabre into the first Texan in his path, a grizzled-looking man in a mud-stained white shirt. The blade slit a neat line around the base of the man's neck and he dropped his rifle, clutching instead at the newly-opened wound, which was already beginning to tinge his shirt a different colour. A second man swung the heavy butt of a gun towards the horseman, who slid neatly in his saddle leaving the weapon to fly harmlessly past, and flicked his better weapon back with a twist of the wrist, catching the rebel across the face with its razor-sharp point. He fell with a cry that mixed surprise and pain, it was left to the onrushing Mexican horses to finish the job their captain had started.

A article from "The Golden Nation" by DerKaizerTaking the reins with his sword-hand, the dragoon reached from his side for a long-barrelled, sleek, black pistol and drew in his horse, who reared high to halt its gallop. The rider lowered his gun at one of the few Texans who had managed to get a shot off- a boy surely not yet of age who was hurriedly trying to reload the weapon with fumbling hands- one crack from the pistol, and he fell. A guttural roar from his right side caused the dragoon to twist in his saddle, to see a bearded man rushing at him holding a bayonet high in both hands. But the attacker was too far away, and his target's reflexes too fast. The bullet caught him near his left shoulder, and he, too, fell. This was not a challenge, this was target practice.

Replacing his pistol in its holster, he turned his horse swiftly and kicked her on towards the rising sun, to where the soldier stood. This was no amateur. He had felled a dragoon to the right of the captain on the charge with his rifle, and now held a pistol and a finely-crafted sword in his hand. A man worth killing.

"Senor!" He called, in a passable English accent. "Will you do me the honour?"

The soldier understood him, he dropped his pistol and raised the sabre in his right hand. The dragoon once again reigned in his mount and vaulted easily from the saddle with a practiced air, likewise with sabre in hand.

The Texan lunged, and his adversary twisted on the spot, neatly dodging the attack, and beating the other's back with the flat of his blade- this was not the killing blow, he was merely chastising his opponent for so pedestrian an effort. The Texan brought his sword down in a great blow, and the dragoon raised his blade in turn, and with a resounding clash the two weapons met, sending a shuddering blow down each hand. The dragoon slid away, ducking under a rapid swipe from his opponent, and jabbed him under the arm, tearing the blue sleeve and the skin underneath. The victim growled in anger and pulled himself free, lunging again and again failing to meet his mark- but this time the dragoon's attack was met with the Texan's sword and the two parted again.

Now the dragoon darted forwards with a lunge of his own, and though the Texan parried he flicked his wrist rapidly- more rapidly than his opponent had anticipated, and caught him in the sword-hand. The Texan dropped his weapon with a howl of pain and anger, blood streaming down his hand, and as he looked up at his opponent he caught the dragoon's boot in his face, and fell onto his back. The point of his adversary's sabre hovered above his face.

"I thank you, senor, an honourable display.". Came the Spanish voice.
"Honourable?" Spat the Texan in pain. "Call an ambush honourable? You're all the same- cheating Mexican.".
"Californian, actually". Replied the dragoon with a smile, and drove the sabre downwards.
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© Today in Alternate History, 2013-. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.