Uncharted Forest, 1st Fallowfall Regiment of Swords Camp, The Duke's Own

"What is happening with the Oerkins?" Lord Sturm stood on top of an archery tower and glanced toward the Oerkin camp, seeing a large orange glow from the Oerkin camp direction. "How long was this ago?"

"Just after the ringing of the night bell, my Lord," The reporting soldier kneeled at the side.

Suddenly several large thunder cracks and balls of fire could be seen in the distance. Sturm braced himself as the ground shook slightly and looked with surprise at the rising flames.

"What in the thirteen hells is happening?" Sturm cried, "Send your men to find out!"

The soldier bowed and retreated down the ladder, and headed towards his subordinates.

Sturm frowned as he watched more flames bursting skywards followed by a slight ground tremor. Could it be the rebels are attacking? But from that direction? A new passage maybe? Multiple thoughts raced through Sturm's head as he analysis each possible scenario.

"We wasted more than a week here already and the Oerkins attacks are not progressing well enough," Sturm spoke to his officers behind him. "Prep your men for an all-out attack before the sun breaks, we will hit them in multiple places at once."

Sturm leaned on the parapet, the fire from the distance reflecting a mad glint in his eyes, "For the Empire!" he whispered.


Sawtooth Mountain Pass, Marine Support Base

The rear ramps of Valkyrie One slammed open, and the soldiers of Hundred and First ATI, stormed down the decks, each man holding on to the stretcher bearing one of their wounded.

Several medical personnel with a large red cross armband rushed up, pushing a trolley bed, taking over from the weary soldiers.

"He got mind farked!" Specialist Lance Corporal Young yelled over the scream of the turboprops. He was the team healer or medic as hoomans called them.

"What?" One of the hoomans medics looked at him in confusion. She was digging into her bag for tools and stuff like blood pressure monitor which Young managed to recognized from his first aid courses.

"He saw something he shouldn't have!" Young continued to yell over the rotors as they pushed Altied towards the medical tentage, "His brain couldn't handle the magical backlash."

"Oh," The female human with her name tag reading 'June' had her short hair tied up in a ponytail and a pair of stethoscope over her neck. "Ok, he goes into Trauma One!"

"I gave him a total of 20 CCs of tranq-shot, and hooked him up on IV fluid drip since yesterday evening," Young ran through all the medical aid he gave. "I also cast a Minor Recovery and Minor Dispel on him."

"Got it," June scribbled down the information on a pad hooked to the trolley. "Any physical trauma?"

"No, its only mental injury," Young replied, stopping the thick white curtains of the medical tentage.

"Don't worry," June assured, giving him a comforting smile as she and her team pushed Altied into the tent, "We will heal your friend."

"Ok, I just wait here." Young sat down next to a couple of Marine guards on duty at the medical center, who nodded respectfully to Young. Not long after sitting down, Young dozed off from exhaustion.


Sawtooth Mountain Pass Defense Command Center, The Pit

Major Frank smiled as the word came in that the Hundred and First Arcane Tactics and Intervention had landed successfully at the Marine Support Base at the rear of the lines.

The reports from the defending Marines haven't any sights of any undead. And the nightly attacks had ceased, allowing the defenders some rest.

He started clapping in the Pit, "Good work, people," he praised everyone as they paused their work and clapped along. The face of Specialist Sergeant Tyrier on the display screen gave a tired smile of satisfaction.

"Sir, we do have a single casualty from fighting the Necromancer," Tyrier reported, "He's currently in the Medical Center undergoing treatment."

Frank nodded, "Still, Claymore One has done an outstanding job, I am going to recommend the whole team for citations."

"Thank you, Sir," Tyrier gave a salute, "If there is nothing else, Sir, I need to attend to my men."

Frank smiled again, and returned the salute, "Tell your men good job, drinks will be on me."

The display connection cut after they both finished the conversation. Frank look at Pike who said, "Well, the Valkyries turned out to be a blessing in disguise."

Frank nodded, "Even the trial rockets are way above expectations. I am expecting at least half of the rockets to fail or even blow up in their pod launchers."

"Ya of little faith!" Pike grumbled. "I designed those things, they will work, one way or another. He grinned, "Now is to put it into mass production."

"So far our new weapons are working well enough to counter the enemy," Frank said, "I'm curious how they tame those wolves."

Just at this moment, a communications tech called, "Sir, incoming transmission from Command."

Frank nodded, "Put it on in the main screen."

The screen flickered and Captain Blake appeared before him. "Sir!" Frank and Pike saluted.

"At ease," Blake saluted back, "I like to give my congratulations on a successful mission. UAV shows no undead forces attacking the Pass, I hope the undead threat has been totally eradicated."

"Yes, Sir. We currently have no reports of any sightings of undead either," Frank replied.

Blake nodded in the screen, "The modified helos and rocket pods appeared to be also working very well."

Frank grinned, "Yes, way better than expected, I'm sure it will be a nasty surprise for the Empire when we unleash them."

"Good, this war is getting stupid," Blake sighed, "If we can overpower the shit out of them in one attack and end this siege, we will be in a better position to choose our next battle."

Frank nodded, if they can choose their battles, it definitely will give them more of an edge against the Empire.

"Sir, I am sure they will react after this morning's activities," Frank gave his assessment.

"Yes, I concur too, the ship's missiles batteries will be available on your request," Blake said, "but we only have so many missiles, try not to waste it on small fry."

"Yes, Sir and thank you, Sir!" Frank said, "I will also have the Valkyries to provide close-in air support."

Blake nodded, "As much as this fight is necessary, but if possible, like what Master Sergeant Pike had suggested, try to avoid killing the slave soldiers."

Frank gave a grimace, "It will be hard, Sir. From what we know, standard Empire tactics involves using their slave army as meat shields."

"They send them up to soak as much damage as possible, and keep the enemy pinned down while they more mobile units maneuver into a flank attack," Frank explained.

"At times, they also ignore their own slaves' troops and just trample or friendly fire them," Pike added. "Well, I would suggest using the Armed Forces Entertainment Service to blast propaganda to the slaves, you know, get them to surrender and deflect over all that shit."

Blake nodded, "I will speak with the Princess on this in the morning, brief your men on offering the slaves options to surrender."

"Yes Sir," Frank replied, "I will also get a place to securely hold the prisoners and screen them properly."

"Great! Now get some rest, it's nearly 0400 hours, and I'm sure the enemy will come up with something soon," Blake said.


As the sky brightens slightly, thousands of Empire soldiers slowly crept closer to the Pass, their steel hobbled boots muffled by strips of cloth, and they gathered just at the edge of the forest with the grumpy Oerkins and waited for instructions.

Ninety-nine hooded mages in blue trench coats stood in the rear of the lines, they had drawn a massive magic formation among the trees, using precious materials like drops of dragon blood, mercury and enchanted silver for the formation.

Master Mage Dular stood directly in the middle of the spell formation next to a female wearing a dark blue hooded robe which highlighted her figure perfectly.

Two fully armored in blue and gold tones, the Emperor's Lifeguards flanked her by the side, their blank visors covered their faces fully with no eye slits to be seen.

Mage Dular nodded after a while as he inspected his men's work, "To your satisfaction, My Lady? He asked in a mocking tone to the female.

The witch ignored him, crouching down and using her forefinger and poked the markings on the ground. She nodded and stood back up and reminded quiet, casting a cold glaze at Dular, who smiled.

"Do your thing then," Dular said, "Or you can escape if you want?"

She looked away and Dular laughed, "Bring the slaves," He snapped his fingers, "Quickly now."

Three hundred downtrodden slaves of mixed ages and gender, secured together by ropes tied to their necks, were dragged and forced to kneel in specific locations within the magic formation. Three hundred soldiers accompanied them, standing behind with their hands on their sword hilts.

The witch closed her eyes and bowed her head slightly and her shoulders visibly shook, she took a deep breath and looked up, her silver eyes filled with anger and sadness as a magic circle expanded out from her, enveloping the formation.

Dular raised his hand and chopped down, timing it just as the witch finished her enchantment. The three hundred soldiers drew their swords as one and chopped down, cutting off the screams and cries of the bound and kneeling slaves.

Blood fountained out, and as the blood touched the lines of the magic formation, the formation glowed brighter and brighter as it absorbed the blood.

Dular felt goosebumps raising all over his body as the air crackled with energy, and he started to laugh madly, enjoying the feeling of raw power building up in the area. "NOW!" he screamed at his men, who stood in a line, raised their hands up and chanted a spell.

The magic formation glowed brightly, lighting up the forest, and suddenly a massive earthquake erupted, the ground rumbled and shook, and the earth moved, rising higher and higher, uprooting trees along its way before slamming directly against the vertical cliff walls of the Mountain, creating a ramp up, large enough for a dozen land dragons to walk side by side.

The landscape had changed, and a new gentle slope had raised up directly against the Wall of the Pass, just as the first rays of sunlight cut over the peaks of the Mountain.


Sawtooth Pass, Wall Alpha

The rumbling and shaking of the land woke Mills up from his sleep, he kneeled on all fours, wondering what the hell is going go. "An earthquake?"

"Corporal!" One of his men yelled, one hand holding onto his helmet as cracks appeared in the concrete walls, and concrete dust dribbled down from the ceilings.

"Look!" The Marine pointed out of the firing slits where the sky was brightening. Mills pushed himself up, balancing himself against the wall as the ground continued to roll and sway under his feet.

He leaned against the firing slit and looked out, his mouth dropping as he saw the earth climbing up against the cliff wall unnaturally. The earth pushed and rise up like water, before hardening and forming a gentle slope about a kilometer long down the side of the cliff.

"What the fuck?" He rubbed eyes and stared out again, the shaking of the ground slowly stopped but the huge stretch of land appearing in front of him made him wonder if he has gone insane from too little sleep.

Hundreds and hundreds of tiny figures could be seen forming up the slope edge as Mills continued to stare. A whistle went off, and the public announcement system blared, "Stand to, stand to! This is not a drill, I repeat, this is not a drill!" before rock and roll music continued playing.

"Fuck!" Mills yelled, gaining back his senses. "It's an all-out attack! FUCKING HACKERS!"

A note from neo Koh

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