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Urka the Fierce spat a piece of tough gristle out from his mouth as he clambered over a massive tree root. He paused at the top of the root and stared over the heads of his clan mates marching behind him. He adjusted the leather straps holding his double moon bladed ax on his back.

His clan known as The Hand had joined the soft skins for promises of food, weapons and a share in the plunder. They mostly roam around the outer ridges of the mountains like nomads, living off the land and raiding the soft skins for food, weapons, and slaves. As they lacked the knowledge of metal forging, they relied upon the soft skins for iron weapons and at times food to tide over the winter months.

The clans periodically wage war amongst themselves, over the best watering hole to the prime pastures for their wandering herds of muffalos. Clan rankings were also determined by wars and duels, basically, it is all about the survival of the fittest.

Most of his clan worn a simple boiled muffalo hide or those with higher ranks within the clan, worn crude looking metal plating, hammered into some resemblance of a chest plate with a white handprint painted on their chests. They disdained the weak and small soft skins who were wrapped in thick furs and leather armor, yet they had to control their unhappiness with working for the soft skins, for they pay well in weapons, armor, food, and slaves.

To the Oerkin, a warrior should fear nothing, not even the cold. He felt that his clan shouldn't bow down to the soft skins and just take what they need from them. But the Great Chief had spoken and he could not disobey. He leaped down and his bared feet wrapped with leather squished the wet snow.

He continued the march with over four thousand of his kin, heading towards the distant jagged peaks of the mountain range, sensing an aura of bloodlust coming from the mountains. Excited by the thoughts of war and plunder, he drew in a deep breath. "Waaaargh!" His war cry echoed through the forest, inciting his clan to roar with him, and the war drummers unlimbered their drums and started beating a tempo furiously.

-----

Duke Sturm rode on a palanquin mounted the back of a land dragon. A small charcoal brazier burnt, keeping the temperature warm and cozy inside. Sturm lounged on several pillows while the palanquin swayed gently on the back of the lumbering creature.

Chewing on a golden fruit, Sturm gave a sigh of enjoyment as a two half-naked female knitted his muscles. He dropped the half-eaten fruit back on the bowl and half closed his eyes in bliss.

"My Lord!" A cry woke him from his pleasant dreams. "A report has arrived from the scouts."

He sat up from the pillows and shoved away the slaves, his pleasure ruined. "What is it?"

"My Lord, the scouts have the Pass in sight and it appears that the rebel has fortified the Pass." The soldier riding a war dragon reported, pacing the larger lumbering land dragon side by side. "They report seeing a double defensive wall built at the Pass."

"What?" Sturm pulled away from the thick heavy curtains of the palanquin and glared at the soldier. "Are the scouts accurate?"

"Yes my Lord," The soldier handed a rolled up scroll to the footman riding along the land dragon, who presented the scroll to Sturm.

Sturm grabbed the scroll and unfurled it, glaring at the contents, which showed a sketch of the Pass and the fortifications protecting it.

"Impossible, it must be an illusion spell!" Sturm dumped the scroll to the side, "How could they have built this much walls during winter?"

The reporting soldier kept his head down, not daring to dispute his Lord. "It is just a ruse, even if they successfully constructed the walls during winter, Now that the snow is melting, the ground it stands on won't be sturdy enough to withstand our artillery."

Sturm gestured to the rear of the marching column, where several land dragons pulled a massive construct behind them among the columns of blue-coated soldiers slogging through the mud, causing by hundreds and hundreds of feet and the melting snow.

Several more land dragons cleared the way of his army, uprooting the everblue trees, and creating a highway for his war machines to move over the difficult terrain.

He heard the rising tempo of drums started in the front of the marching army column, and smiled, "Well, at the least the dogs are hungry. Form the army into two columns, let the dogs take the center stage." Sturm gave out his order to his men. A flagbearer started waving flags in a particular matter, while a horn was blown to call the commander's attention to the signal flags.

-----

The Owleye UAV stationed at the Pass, glided in gentle circles in the wind, its adaptive coat turning it semi-invisible to the naked eye as it trailed the advancing army through the thick forest. It's communications array constantly sent bytes of information back to Base, updating the Combat Information Center in real time.

The uprooting of the trees allowed the UAV pilot to constantly track their movements within the thick blue canopy of the forest as they marched in a direct path towards the Pass and the humans and elvish defenders ready themselves as the enemy neared.

-----

Sawtooth Pass, Alpha Wall.

Marine Private Talan stood inside the protected casement eyeing the forest through the firing slits. He carefully dripped some gun oil onto his bolt carrier and gave it a good wipe, before installing it back into his rifle.

He worked the bolt, making sure the action was smooth and squeezed the trigger, dry firing the Magelock, making sure the fire runes were working.

He pulled the bolt back and slowly slid in two five-round stripper clip one after another into the open chamber. After that, he closed the bolt and put the weapon on safe.

"Sarge," He called James who was sitting with his back against the wall, eyes closed. "Think we can win?"

"Of course," Third Sergeant James replied. "We fought back larger numbers with less than half of the defenders we got now."

"Not to mention, you guys have Magelocks now," James added.

"I see them!" Someone yelled excitedly, and everyone turned their attention to the distant forest edge, seeing in the distance, trees were being toppled, creeping closer and closing. "Looks

"Don't worry, they still have to climb up the slope of the mountain," James assured his men. He was now in charge of a new section of elves, his previous men were all mostly reassigned among the new recruits.

"Alright do a check of your weapons and ammunition," James ordered, "Check your sights are set to 300 meters."

His men rested their Magelocks against the firing slits and started to make adjustments to their sights and ensuring their weapons were loaded.

"I don't think they will attack today," James said while looking at his wristwatch. The sun will go down in three hours, and he highly doubts the enemy will attack in the dark especially after marching through the forest and melting snow without resting.

Sure enough, UAV reported that the enemy had stopped roughly two kilometers away from the Pass, hiding inside the forest and started to make camp, and learning from their previous experience, the campsites were spread out among the forest and no longer clustered together. Even the number of sentries were doubled.

"Alright, the blue boys are hunkering down in the forest for the night," James said to his section, "Get some shuteye as much as possible, we will rotate watch tonight."

Some of the Marines laid down against the cold hard concrete to rest, while others stood watching the forest, hoping to see something. James ducked out of the exit of the bunker built inside the walls and head towards the command post at the rear. The defenders were all situated inside the walls behind a layer of reinforced concrete rather than the exposed top.

As he passed by the second defensive wall, named Beta, he glanced up at the towering railgun turrets, where dozens of engineers and tech were like ants, doing their best to get the guns operational before the enemy attacks.

He entered a concrete bunker set into the mountainside, where three Marine sentries stood guarding a sandbagged checkpoint, after passing inspection, he entered the steel door and found another two sentries stationed at the end of a 50-meter long corridor, wide enough for only two men to walk side by side.

He nodded to the two sentries before entering another steel door with another two more guards on the other side, before entering the main Sawtooth Mountain Defense command center. Dozens of display screens salvaged from the ship lined one side of the wall, where live imagery was been broadcasted. A large tactical plot table sat at the middle of the room, surrounded by commanders and section leaders as they discussed strategy on the map.

Elves and human operators in Marine digital cam uniforms sat in front of consoles and computers, operating the systems and speaking into their headsets.

He joined the group of commanders in the middle of the room and listened in to the discussion they were having. Master Sergeant Pike was addressing everyone at the table.

"Here is how we are going to kick their asses."

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A note from neo Koh

Hi all, there will be a slight change of release of chapters. I will no longer release any chapters over the weekends ~ Sorry for that ~

Enjoy!


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neo Koh

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