Third Sergeant James Bone of 1st Marine Battalion, 1st Company, 3rd Platoon leaped down the tailgate of the military half-track, his boots slamming down on the hard concrete. He took a look around as he grabbed his weapon and gear off the storage bin. Other than the smell, the mining outpost look neat and tidy.
He walked towards a large sign with an arrow that said, "Marines" and entered the building where an elf with corporal strips, most likely newly promoted after the battle of the Past sat on duty behind a desk at the lobby. "Sergeant! How can I help you," The corporal stood up in parade attention.
"Here, I am supposed to find Top," James hands over his orders printed in a paper over to the corporal who took a quick glance before directing him to the top floor and informing him to hand over his weapons to the armory behind him before going up.
James nodded and head over to the armory, dropping off his Magelock, Single Action Revolver, machete, and ammunition before climbing the stairs up to the third floor, where he entered a large room with chairs set out in rows enough for twenty people.
Some of the chairs were occupied, and James spotted a familiar face, and carried his gear over, flopping next to the shortly cropped red hair grinning at him. "Hey, James," Petty Officer 2nd Class Kristine looked up at him as he sat next to her. "How's it going?"
"Can't be better," James smiled at Kristine, "Long time no see, how are you?"
"Busy," She smiled back, "Teaching the natives in the academy most of the time." She rolled her eyes.
"Oh, what subjects?" James asked as he removed his load bearing harness.
"English and mathematics," She replied, "I also help out with basic computer knowledge too."
"I thought you majored in archeology and history if I remembered correctly," James furrowed his eyebrows in thought, "Why are they getting you to teach such stuff?"
"Apparently being from Cambridge makes you wildly popular with the higher-ups," Kristine explained, "Well, blame me for acing my English and Maths scores."
James gave a low whistle, "So Teacher Kristine, what brings you here?' He gestured around the meeting room.
"Beats me," She shrugged and leaned back on her chair, "How about you?"
"Oh, mines simple," James kicked back and yawned, "Got pulled to be an instructor at the Camp Alpha, trained out a batch of Marines and then the Empire came for round two, and we kicked their asses."
"That sounds simple," Kristine grinned, "So know anything why they called us here?" She looked at the other group of elves dressed similarly to James, who was mostly dozing off at the chairs.
"They are from the Hundred and First, team Claymore One," James gave a quick explanation, "Seems like something big is gonna happen if they are here too."
"Hope it has nothing to do with the dungeon the radio is talking about all week," Kristine said, "I dunno if I can go into another tunnel again."
"Hmm, well, to be frank, I think it has to do with the dungeon," James gave his guess, "You and me being in a ruins, and you being knowledgeable Cambridge gal, had major in archeology and had proven capable under fire..."
"Noooo... please stop!" Kristine pleaded, "I have nightmares about that!"
"Come on, if we go in, at least this time we are more prepared!" James grinned. 'It will be like a Role Playing Game now! Go in kill monsters and find treasure!"
"What's with you guys always about killing and treasure?" Kristine moaned, just as the door opened and several people entered the room. Magister Thorn, Dr. Sharon, Top, Captain Blake, and an unfamiliar silver-haired elf entered together and Top, yelled, "Attention on deck!"
The dozing Claymore One team woke up almost immediately and following James and Kristine, shot up in parade attention and saluted as one. Captain Blake saluted back, "At ease, men." And other than Top who stood at parade rest at the door, the rest of the group found seats and the room settled down.
"Alright, I have called everyone here for a mission," Blake began the brief, "By now everyone has heard of the dungeon right?" Nods were returned from everyone. "So we are going in to explore it."
"Claymore One will be split into two, Squad One and Squad Two will under the command of Master Sergeant Pike and supported by Magister Thorn," Blake started to assign team roles. "The second party will be Squad Three and Specialist Sergeant Tyrier under the command of Sergeant James and supported by Petty Officer Kristine and erm, Mistress Irisval."
The seated soldiers nodded at Blake's instructions while Kristine's face fell. "Dr. Sharon will be providing support remotely at the operation center here."
"Now, this dungeon is something most of us are new to," Blake said next, "Magister Thorn will give you a brief of roughly what you can expect to find inside. Magister Thorn?" Blake invited Thorn up.
"Thank you, Sir," Magister Thorn stood up and faced the group seated. "Well, I entered two dungeons when I was younger, back in the days," He smiled, "What can we expect inside?"
"For one, monsters, but what types or species, we won't know till we explore the place," Thorn said, "Next, traps, there might be some or there might not be any, also dependant on the dungeon."
"For this dungeon, we estimated using ground penetrating radar, that it will be roughly thirteen levels deep," Blake added, "The size of the levels is roughly one acre or less. The radar could only pick up rough patches of subsurface objects and changes in material properties, but not the layout of tunnels and rooms."
"So, we will be going in to explore and map out the first level and see what is inside first," Thorn continued. "The monsters get stronger as the level deepens, so it should be easy for us to clear the first level."
"Ok? Any questions?" Blake asked.
Kristine raised her hand, "Sir, why do you need me here?"
"I want you in the team is due to your archeology experiences and since you been under fire before and can keep a cool head.' Blake smiled.
James silently mouthed, an I told you so, which made Kristine rolled her eyes and gave a glare to James who grinned back.
"You are all allowed to use deadly force and the rest is up to the team leaders discretion," Blake continued. "Also gather all materials you could from the monsters back for research purposes. You will be carrying your standard weapons, except for team leaders, who will be issued the M7s, just in case."
"Anything else?" Blake asked again, "No? Ok, you will set off tomorrow morning at 0900 hours, gather at the Ops room by 0700 hours for a final briefing. Team Leaders to gather at 0600 hours, clear?"
"Aye aye, Captain!" The men chorused and broke up into their teams.
James stood at one corner while his team gathered around him, He looked at the three Claymore One soldiers, who greeted him, "Sergeant James, you were one of our instructors at Camp Alpha." Tyrier grinned.
"Great!" James grinned back, "Let's introduce ourselves to each other," He gestured to Tyrier to start.
"I am Specialist Sergeant Third Class Tyrier Lodess, I am Claymore One's team leader."
"Corporal Doth Leodin, Squad Three's Magic Assualt, team Claymore One."
"Private Tavel Kan, Squad Three's Sharpshooter and support medic, team Claymore One."
"Erm, Petty Officer 2nd class, Kristine Perry, Auxiliaries Department, I work in the life support systems, apparently I have knowledge of studying ancient ruins that is why I am here."
"Sergeant 2nd Class James Bone, 1st Marine Battalion, 1st Company, 3rd Platoon." And all eyes turned to the last member of the team, the silver-haired girl.
She looked unease and spoke in a soft voice, "Irisval von Aston, I am an Earth Elementalist."
The Claymore One guys whistled and wowed as they heard Irisval was an Elementalist, much to the confusion of James and Kristine. Tyrier seeing their confusion explained, "An Elementalist is very rare in this time and age. They have the ability to control the elements and for Irisval she said she's an Earth Elementalist meaning she can control the earth."
'Compared to your magic power?" James asked, "More powerful?"
"Oh yes," Tyrier nodded, "Say if I want to compare her magic vs mine involving the use of Earth element, Irisval's level one spell will be equaled to my level three spell even if it is the same spell using the same amount of mana power."
"But compared to other elements, she will be weaker especially against water-based spells but strong versus air based magic," Tyrier further explained, inciting a shy nod from Irisval.
"Very interesting," James rubbed his chin, wondering how should he deploy his team. "Alright, let's take a break for now, and let's meet up again later to discuss the dungeon after lunch? How's that?"
Everyone agreed and nodded, "So where should we meet up? The cafeteria?"
"Sure, why not?" Everyone was new to this area and does not know where else to go.
But Irisval stopped them. "Why not come to my workshop? It is quieter there and easier to talk."
"You have a workshop here?" James raised his eyebrows.
"Yes, I work here." She timidly replied she wasn't too good with new people.
"Great! Then let's go there instead!" James declared and got her to give the location of the workshop. "Workshop No. 4? Alright, let's meet later!"
Two hours later, the whole group gathered outside a large wooden building with a huge number 4 painted on the side with Irisval waving at them at the entrance. "Welcome to my workshop," She gave a shy smile. "Come on in."
"Why do they call you Mistress?" James asked as they entered the workshop, seeing two hulking rock sculptures set in the middle of the building surrounded by drawings on the floor.
"Erm, I think they call me that in as a form or respect after I helped some of the miners during a cave in," Irisval blushed, "I told them not to but they insisted."
"I see," James nodded, the rest looked around the brightly lit interior of the workshop in curiously. And saw a human sitting behind some computers at one side of the room, tapping away at his keypad with the radio running some music at his side.
"Is sculpturing your hobby?" Kristine asked as she peered at the featureless face of the rock statues. "Is this your workshop to make sculptures?"
The Claymore One members laughed, as they heard what Kristine said, and replied, "Ma'am, Mistress Irisval here is an Earth Elementalist. Meaning these sculptures are her akemkal!"
"Akemkal?" James and Kristine looked surprised and confused at the unfamiliar word. "What's that?"
Tyrier grinned, "I guess you guys just arrived and hasn't seen anything here yet." He rapped his fingers against the hard rock surface and gestured for Irisval to explain.
"Erm, an akemkal is a golem or puppet in other words," Irisval explained, "We will be bringing these two upgraded golems in with us tomorrow to act as our support."
'Wait, what?" James cried out, "You mean this rock sculpture can move?"
"Of course, Sergeant!" A voice suddenly cut into their conversation, and an Asian man dressed in a grey jumpsuit with rolled sleeves wearing glasses joined them. He was the human that was working at the corner earlier and hearing their conversation came over to join in.
"This is the apex of magic and human ingenuity!" The Asian male continued, a wide grin on his face, "Using the modern science of robotics and mixing with Mistress Irisval's control of Earth magic, we are able to create pseudo robots with basic AI without the need of complex machinery and wires!"
The Asian male appeared to be raving at this point as he launched into an explanation which most of them couldn't understand what he was explaining, making Kristine whispering to Irisval, "Is he alright?"
Irisval sighed, "He's fine, just .... over passionate. He's Tae Joon Pak the 'sis-term' support for the mining here and the Captain called him an 'Oh-ta-Ku' or something like that."
"He did however taught me and showed me some images and videos of how a person's anatomy like the joints of arms and legs, this allowed me to visualize a better way for the golems to move, thus increasing their agility and speed of movements," Irisval explained over the words of the Tae Joon Pak, which everyone was ignoring now. "I am creating the skeleton of the golem first than I will add in the rest like the armor for the body, which Tae Joon is helping me with on his 'corn-pu-er'."
"Damn, this is going to be fun, we got fucking armor support!"