The seagull shaped flying boat hit the choppy waters with a bounce, before dipping down again. The pilot pulled back the throttle, powering down the engines as he fought the controls to keep the plane leveled against the sea.

After a few more bounces against the waves, the flying boat's knife bow plowed through the waves and the pilot slowly eased the throttle to allow the flying boat to push itself next to the massive seaplane tender, UNS Matador.

The twin-hulled seaplane tender had a small flight deck perched on the top of two hulls. Cranes and other heavy lifting equipment lined the sides of the tender while an 'island' sat on the starboard side of the flat top deck.

The ship's length was measured at 84m with a beam of 28.5m wide. The flight deck had two steam catapults for the F/A -1N Sea Cobras to launch out and deck space for helicopter type aircraft to land and takeoff. Inside the belly of the tender held eight Sea Cobras tightly parked together with two elevators to bring the planes to the top.

To retrieve the seaplanes once they were launched, the Sea Cobras had to land on the sea surface and be picked up by cranes. The seaplane tender was built by using the two old ships bought from the Isles. The hulls were stripped down and refurbished with new materials before the top flight and hangar decks were welded over the two hulls.

It was armed with two 3" guns, one on each side of the hull, eight dual 20mm mounts and twelve .50 caliber guns for self-defense. A crew of 139 manned the ship, which barely filled up half the required manpower needed to fully crew the ship.

The remaining two flying boats followed the first plane down and soon parked next to the UNS Matador, where the crew of the tender swung a crane over with refueling lines. The FB-1 Mariner crews grabbed the refueling lines and plug them into the refueling port on the wings while the UNS Floatin' Wreck sat a short distance away watching over them.

Once refueled, the lead plane powered up its engine propellers and goosed off to allow the next plane to take its place to refuel. The process was repeated for the till all three flying boats were fully refueled and they gunned their engines to full power and bounced off the waves and back into the skies, doing a single loop around the UNS Matador before flying back to base.

Commander Ford grinned as he watched the three flying boats disappear over the snowing horizon, "Mission successful!" He reported back to Command before he turned to his crew in the bridge of UNS Matador.

"Good job, people! Now bring us back home! Those green skins won't bother us for some time now!"


Reachfields, Kingdom of Mecca

The sun disappeared behind the grey clouds and the temperature dropped. Tiny snow drifts fell from the downcast skies before being whipped around in the air by gusts of cold wind. Yet despite the cold weather, thousands and thousands of men and beasts stood side by side, facing each other with weapons and full armor.

Banners of various colors representing different allegiance and companies fluttered in the cold winter air. The men stamped their feet in the cold and rubbed cold hands together. The breath of the anxiously waiting soldiers turned white in the air as both sides stared down at each other.

Captain Borse cursed under his breath as he rubbed his nose numbed from the cold and wondered why the hell were they fighting in the winter. He looked at his Last Company's men which grew to almost double the numbers since the retreat from Frontier City and frowned, wondering how many will get to see the next day.

The past few months had been a frenzy of running and fighting. The Empire general purposely left the Eastern Gate open so that the demoralized soldiers and citizens will have a hole to run. He instead had his cavalry forces laying in wait to harass the retreating population and soldiers.

The constant raids and lack of supplies for many, led many of the people and soldiers to surrender, giving the Imperials easy victories. The run to the next safe city was like what Borse and his men had fought for many months ago and the constant battles hardened up the inexperienced 19th Guardians led by the youngster, Captain Lanser.

After many tough situations, they arrived at the City of Reachfields where thousands of refugees fearing the Empire had fled there. The normally peaceful city suddenly turned chaotic as thousands of troops from the Two Nation Alliance rallied there. Defensive trench works were dug and the city walls fortified.

Borse and his men were given a billet outside the city and assigned a series of defensive works consisting of dirt walls and wooden palisades to defend. The Empire slowly made its way over to Reachfields as it consolidated its forces and also strengthen its supply lines before it made its way over.

Now both armies stood facing each other with a distance of a ballista maximum range away. Troops were formed up large infantry squares while archers stood in a loose skirmish line in front of the line troops. Mages formed up behind the shield walls and the dragon cavalries held the wings of the army. The flying dragons stayed at the rear waiting for the command to fly.

All in all, it was a straightforward battle as the land flat enough for cavalry and infantry charges with little hills and forests around to provide concealment to hide troop movements while the Two Nation Alliances troop were fortified behind defensive works in front of the city.

Suddenly black dots arrived over the Imperial formations and someone yelled, "Imperial Dragons!"

"They are attacking!"

Horns and drums rolled down from the Empire side as the Imperial formation shook into action. They marched forward confidently with the dragons in support overhead, trampling over the frozen farmlands.

"Make ready!" Borse yelled from the barricade he was standing behind. The Imperials were attacking their fortified position so they had an advantage of cover. His men sat up from the ground and gripped spear shafts with frozen hands and fingers, resting the long shafts against the spiked barriers.

The roar of dragons had Borse looking up to see the pale yellow underbellies of the Alliance dragons flying over them as they sortie against the Imperial dragons to prevent the Imperial dragons from bombarding the allied troops below.

Suddenly dozens of heavily armored trolls with chains appeared and stormed their way towards the allied defenses. The Empire hid the trolls and moved them forward in their cages covered with a white cloth to prevent the Allied troops from spotting them.

Borse's face turned pale with horror as he watched two trolls about three times his height storming over, their thick iron chains digging furrows on the frozen ground as it was dragged along.

"Ballistas! Aim for the Trolls!" Borse turned and yelled, his command being echoed down by others to the Ballistas mounted on the large platform towers.

The Imperials advanced with shields raised as they came into bow range. Poles marked the terrain for the Allied troops, allowing them to gauge the distance and the Company Captain of the Archers yelled, "LOOOOOSEEE!"

Hundreds of black feathered arrows were released as one. They arc into the air and rained down among the advancing Imperials. Cries and screams rose from the Imperials as they weathered the arrows, the unfortunate ones getting hit.

The Trolls ignored the pinpricks of the arrows that stabbed into their exposed bodies and instead roared with fury and they charged. The ballistas fired bolt after bolt, reloading as fast as they could to hit the Trolls but only were marginally successful in bring down two trolls out of almost fifty of them.

Borse watched anxiously as the Trolls closed the distance rapidly to their position. The arrows and bolts only further irritated them as the two Trolls were targetted by the archers and crossbowmen.

"Tell the mages to hit them with their biggest spell!" Borse ordered, "Kill those damn things now!"

The Trolls slammed into the fortified dirt walls and spike barricades like they were nothing. Pieces of sharpened logs torn off by the Trolls flew everywhere. Dirt exploded when the Trolls hammered their crude iron maces against the earth walls and send bodies flying away.

The brave men stabbed at the Trolls with their spears and barely drew blood against the rough barklike skin. Several soldiers were swept away back a swing of its iron mace, their blood splattering across the entire defensive works.

Suddenly cracks of lightning sparked out and impacted dead center on one of the Trolls. The thick iron chest plate glowed red from the spell's impact and the Troll suddenly jerk danced on the spot. Steamers of smoke appeared from the Troll's body and the smell of burnt meat rose out.

The Troll gave a last jerk and toppled face down with an earth shaking crash and the men cheered wildly. The other Troll seeing its comrade down, roared with fury and its crushing attacks intensified.

"Form up! The Imperials are here!" Borse roared as he saw the line of blue coated soldiers coming within charging range. "Form a shield wall now!"

The men hesitated as they looked at the carnage wrought by the Troll and the line of blue coated soldiers approaching. "Hurry up! Don't let the Imperials roll over!"

The Troll roared with anger and spotted the soldiers behind him retreating and forming into a shield wall. It delighted it as it made it easier for him to smash those puny two legs and it ran over just as a ballista bolt punched half its length through its left shoulder.

The sudden force of the ballista bolt threw the Troll backward and directly onto the charging Imperials who couldn't stop in time and the heavy body smashed dozens of armored Imperials into a bloody pulp.

"Good shooting!" Borse roared together with the rest of his men. "Plug the holes! Don't let the Imperials in! Mages, kill that thing now! And someone go behead that troll!"

More streaks of lightning struck the Troll with the impaled bolt in his shoulder, electrifying it. A couple of beefy soldiers armed with logging axes quickly stood over the head of the first fallen Troll and they hacked and chopped at the tough neck muscles of the Troll, before its head rolled off, effectively killing the Troll before it regenerated itself.

The other soldiers gave a war cry and rushed up back to their original positions. The barriers destroyed by the Trolls were quickly shored up with soldiers armed with shields. The men anxiously readied their spears as the line of blue coated screaming Imperial soldiers slammed into the barricades at a charge and the dying began again.


As the sky grew darker, the Imperial troops pulled back to lick their wounds, leaving behind hundreds and hundreds of dead and dying. The day's battle had ended without any side having an advantage over the other,

Borse sat down on his steel helmet and watched his people sieving through the wreckage and bodies to find anyone still alive. Their own dead were collected while the Imperials were set aside to be burned. Others picked up weapons and equipment and piled everything on one side to be taken to the Company's blacksmiths to work on.

"Damn cold day isn't it?" Borse said as Taris and Lanser came up to him. "How bad?"

"We lost 117 today, with another 342 wounded," Taris gave the butcher bill. "We have another 28 seriously wounded and they might not live till tomorrow."

"Damn," Borse looked down and spat. "See if we can repair the barricades and walls."

Lanser frowned and asked, "Captain, we can't keep having our people die without any replacements, at this rate, sooner or later there will be no one left in the Company."

"So what you want us to do?" Borse asked as he stood up and loomed over Lanser. "Run away?"

"No, not run away," Lanser replied as he stood his ground against Borse. "We need to recruit more people to the company."

A note from neo Koh

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