The soft moans of the dying could be heard, as Lt Frank lead his small team of Marines down the steep slope. The pitch black darkness illuminated slightly by the twin waning moons allowed Frank and his team, wearing night vision goggles to pick their way softly and slowly along the treacherous slopes.

Franks' team detoured around the battlefield via the slopes, ignoring the dying Empire soldiers. UAV reconnaissance had spotted several heat signatures at various parts of the path, most likely are Empire's sentries and scouts.

The only way to avoid getting spotted even in this dark night is to travel along the slopes, using them as cover. The Goldie commander thought that they are crazy to attempt such a thing but agreed to support Frank and his team as much as possible.

The lead Marine, Pvt Koing after reaching the point where they plan to rappel down to the foot of the mountain, aims a blocky pistol at the wall. A dull thud and a puff of super compressed air, and a hardened steel stake punched into the rock firmly. Koing than attaches a belay device and rope to it before giving it a good tug to test.

He turns a gives his team of three a thumbs up and hooks up his harness to the ropes and device. Once ready, Frank gave him a nod and started to rappel down the slope as softly as possible.

Frank watched Koing descend down into the darkness, even with his night vision which turns everything into a green shade. The little moonlight given off by the moons make visibility is tough, granting them less than a hundred meters of vision.

A double tap from the comms signaled to Frank that Koing had reached the bottom, he pats Lcp Cooper on his shoulder, indicting him to go down. A soft jingle and another dark shadow disappeared down the slope.

"There," Frank whispered, "Last known location of the retreating blue boys." He points towards a massive bluewood tree. "UAV spotted them heading in that direction earlier."

"Go silence, avoid contact." Frank instructed, "Lethal force as last resort. Clear?"

The other two nods. "Dog Actual, to Sierra, proceeding into mission area. Cover our asses, over."

A double tap in the comms replied to Frank's message. He waves his team forward into the dark looming forest.

Traveling into the forest, they found a large number of tracks caused by the matching boots of the Empire's soldiers, allowing them to follow their path easily. Once in a while they crawled and detour around sentries hidden in the trees. Frank updated his tactical map on each sentry location each time one is encountered.

The thick canopy blocked all light from stars to the moons from penetrating into the forest, limiting the viewing distance of their night vision to less than 40 meters. Finally, after almost an hour of sneaking around in the forest, they spotted a glow from the distance.

The trees opened up to a large field, the sky still covered by the outstretching branches of the trees, providing a natural ceiling, sheltering the Empire camp from the weather. Hundreds of tents spread out among the trees, lit by burning braziers set twos by twos.

Dozens of cookfire, with blue coated soldiers sitting around, could be seen and drifts of conversation could be heard from the camp. Frank and his team, lowered their night vision sensitivity, allowing them to see almost as bright as day. "There," Cooper whispered. He points to an extravagant tent set in the middle of the camp, where dozens of banners were propped up around it.

Frank nods, and using the zoom function of his goggles, observed the tent. "Looks like their head honcho." He continues to observe a while before satisfied and gave his next instructions. "Let's fall back some distance. Copper, set up the laser spotter, Koing go up that tree there and deploy the transmitter."

Both men nodded and started they pull back till a safe distance while keeping a line of sight to the tent. Copper removed a laser spotter from his back and hit among the tree roots, sighting in with the binocular looking device, targetting the extravagant tent in the middle.

Koing with the help of Frank boosted himself up the tree branches and slowly and as quietly as he could, climbed up the branches one by one, while Frank kept watch, holding one end of a cable.

Finally a couple of tugs from the cable, Frank hands it over to Copper who plugged it into the spotter. A short while later, a <signal online> appeared on the side of the screen and he armed the spotter.


Almost a hundred kilometers away, a message appeared in the main tactical display, <Target Accquired>. Blake nods to the weapons officer. "Use Saturation Bombardment Plan C. Fire!"

The weapon officer keyed in the preloaded bombardment instructions and hit the fire key. The missile launchers lit up the Base Colony, like fireworks, with six missiles screaming to their destinations.


<Strike Inbound> Appeared on the spotter screen. "Incoming!" Cooper whispered loudly, and Frank jerked the cable several times to warn Konig. As they were less than 600 meters away from the strike zone, they quickly braced themselves against the tree, covering their ears and opening their mouths.

Suddenly the screams scramjet engines roared overhead and the night turned to day. The six missiles following the bombardment plan C, hit within a circle around the targeted location, dealing an area effect bombardment, destroying everything within a 300-meter radius.

After the earth-shaking explosions passed, Koing slid down from the tree, rolling the cable in his hand up. "All done?" He grins in the dark.

"Wait," Frank crouched behind the tree root and observed the bombardment. "What the... ?" As the smoke slowly dispersed, an eerie glow appeared, covering the tent, while the rest of the terrain became pitted and cratered from the missiles. "Fuck magic! Fall back now!"

Horns and rallying cries could be heard from other parts of the camp, suddenly dozens of lights appeared floating around the camp and lit up the dark forest, casting long shadows.

Frank and his team abandoned all stealth and hurried to put as much distance as possible. Shouts could be heard from behind them as they ran through the forest. "Think they found us!" Cooper pants.

A whistle and a thud, the tree in front of them poked a quivering arrow. "No shit!" Koing cried. The three of them turned as one and fired single shots at the shadows moving behind them. Their M7A1 fitted with silencers popped with each shot, dropping their pursuits. "How did they find us so fast?"

"Magic! FUCKING MAGIC!" Cooper yelled. He shot another shadow that appeared from behind a tree, sending it tumbling down and saw it was not human nor elf. It was man-shaped but seems to be made out of smoke, two holes could be seen in its misty body. "What the fuck is that?"

"Back! They can be killed! Keep firing!" Frank ordered, "Koing, Copper move!"

The two marines disengaged and ran a short distance before turning around and provided covering fire to Frank, who ran past them and they repeat the maneuver until nothing is following them.

"What are those things?" Koing asked as they keep running through the forest. "Ghosts? Spirits?"

"I don't know." Frank pants as he answered, "All I know is that the target is not eliminated. It's protected by some kind of spell."

Sounds of hooves could be heard from the rear as they ran, "Shit, incoming cavalry!"


SA Corpsman June washed her hands under the simple tap fitted into the jerry can. She stood up and wiped her hands dry before rubbing her hands with hand sanitizers. She looked around the crowded tent, rows, and rows of badly abused elves, most of them feverish with infection set in their torn feet.

She exited the tent and entered the next tent, nodding a greeting to the young handsome looking Goldie soldier on guard. The number of elves in this tent was the same as before, all lying on the beds, asleep while waiting for treatment and aid.

After providing triage to over half the elves in the tent, June soon noticed something strange. So far she treated over 40 of the elven people, and all had major wounds on their bare feet. But she found some of the elves here barely had any signs of injuries on their feet, not only that, they appeared to be in better health than the others.

Feeling her heart beating faster, are they spies trying to sneak in? I better report this quick! She thought.

She smiled at the handsome face laying on the bed, watching her and turned to leave, pretending she wanted to go grab more medical supplies, when suddenly an arm whips around her throat and choked her from behind. June panicked and thrashed around, kicking the nearest bed and its occupant off to the floor.

The sleeping elves woke up to the clamor and screamed for help, the Goldrose sentry outside dashed into the tent only to be tackled by two other elves. June's last sight of the sentry was him getting stabbed by his own sword before she blacked out.


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