Orwell's Point, Marine Command

Joseph straightened up as the video link came to live and saluted to the officers on the other side of the link. "Good morning, Sirs!"

"The Operation to retrieve Rastraz from the Imperials has gone down successfully. Falcon company has disengaged from the enemy and is pulling back to form a skirmish line 3 kilometers away from the Imperials." Joseph reported.

"Good. How is Rastraz doing?" Blake asked.

"We had our dragon handlers take a look at her. So far, she's fine, just shaken and bruised." Joseph replied. "She will recover fully in a couple of days."

Blake nodded. "Okay. Are the Imperials still pushing down the river?"

"Our scouts watching them reported that they had dug in and encamped on the river banks," Joseph answered. "We suspect that they are waiting for reinforcements."

"Kick them home. Hard. They have overstayed their welcome here," Blake ordered.

"Yes, Sir!" Joseph smiled.

"Now, any news of the missing MAW?" Blake asked next.

"No Sir," Joseph frowned. "The last contact we had was that they are chasing after one of the deserters. After that, we lost all contact. Once Blue Thunder and Rastraz have recovered, I will send them down to the last known location of MAW Zero Two."

"Dead or alive, make sure you find them," Blake said. "And what of the Snake?"

"Yes, Sir," Joseph nodded. "We have the UAV on constant surveillance of the Snake and as of this morning, it had dug in the underground to keep away from the sun. It has advanced 73 kilometers over the night closer to our location."

"It appeared that the Orcs' black magic has failed to keep that monster at bay," Joseph continued. "We expect that the Snake will hit our first line of defense within two days. We do not have any idea why it suddenly changed its heading but judging its current direction, I say there's a very high it's coming our way."

Blake asked. "How are the plans going along for the defense?"

"We planned to have the Cobras bomb the Snake as it approaches our defense lines with napalm. The Mariners will continue their role in doing supply runs," Joseph said. "We converted two of the half tracks into gun carriages for the 3" guns and also we hooked up a few mortars onto carriages that will be towed by jeeps. It will greatly improve our mobility and response times. We will use that to bombard the Snake from far once it is wounded by the napalm bombs."

"We identified the only weapons seemed capable to damage the Snake is the napalm firebombs," Joseph added. "Hence we do not plan to use any troops to fight against the Snake as we observed that it will be throwing lives away for nothing,"

"The Marines will keep order and help with the evacuation of the city if needed while we hit it from afar with our planes and artillery." Joseph finished. "Also, with Dr. Sharon and Magister Thorn's help, we are coming up with a special blend of mortars shells to deal with the Snake! But whether if it works or not, that remains to be seen..."

"I see..." Blake nodded. "Do what you need to do, you have priority on all our stocks and production of napalm."

"Thank you, Sir!" Joseph smiled. "If will be great if there are more Marines to run supplies to Orwell's Point, Sir!"

"I know, R and D side is pushing out a dedicated cargo hauler that can carry the load of two to three Mariners, but we need time," Blake sighed. "And time is against us, so we can only use what we have now!"

"I understand sir!"

"So, how is the crackdown on the cults?" Blake asked. "Any breakthroughs?"

"We managed to arrest several of the senior cultists here," Joseph answered. "But we couldn't find out what kind of Demon God they are worshipping. Seems like they have some kind of geass that prevent them from disclosing that information."

"We lost four of the senior cultists before we stopped questioning the rest about the identity of the Demon Gods..." Joseph replied helplessly. "Magister Thorn has yet to find a way to counteract the geass."

Blake nodded, "Alright, do what you have to do. Hold Orwell's Point if possible, if not, pull back with all your forces. Understand?"

"Aye aye, Sir!" Joseph saluted and the video link cut off.

"Well, you all heard the Boss, I want to plans of attack by end of the day!" Joseph turned to his staff and ordered. "One against the Imperials camping at our doorstep, the other for the damn snake crawling its way over!"


Hours later, the upper senior command staff gathered back at the command center. "Sir, as the threat from the God Snake is greater than the Imperials camping out there, we have decided to assign all the cobras to engage the God Snake once we have plotted out its course."

"We will emplace a deep pit in the path of the God Snake and bury it with napalm canisters and explosives," The staff officer explained their plan of action. "Once the God Snake dropped into the pit, we will detonate all the explosives and napalm inside, hopefully, it will be enough to kill it once and for all!"

"But how can we be sure of it falling into the pit?" Joseph questioned the action plan.

"We will need a lure... someone has to lure it over the trap..."


Great Ocean Plains

A long train of wagons escorted by two lines of heavily armored cavalry that rode on the sides slowly made their way over the large expanses of grass rolling in the gentle wind.

Taris sat on the coach seat next to the driver and watched warily at the dark clouds in the far distance. "Hopefully this time we don't get captured as slaves again!" He joked with the wagon driver who grinned back.

The journey over the plains to Sin City will take them roughly two five day weeks or lesser as long no hiccups happen along the way. Taris wondered if he will get to meet their saviors that stayed on in Sin City. "Oh well, if fate wills it, we will meet again someday!"


Shard River

Mills carefully threaded his way over the bushes and laid down next to one of his men carefully. "Any movements?"

"No, Sarge," The Marine Raider replied. "Looks like they are digging in for good."

"Any changes to the patrols?" Mills asked again as he peeked through his night vision seeing his world turn green and white. The enemy encampment enlarged in his view, showing a simple circular log wall surrounding the camp with guards manning them.

"Same patterns and routines," His man replied softly. "But they are quite alert and the mages appeared to have set some arcane traps and tripwires here and there."

"Too bad we do not have any mortars with us," Mills sighed. "Or it will be such a nice easy target to bomb!"

His men grinned in the darkness, showing white teeth under the layer of painted faces.

"Alright, keep watch for a while more," Mills slowly back crawled away. "Stay alert!"

He crawled his way back and found his radioman hidden behind a tree. "Get me the LT."

"King Falcon, this is Raider One, we got eyes on the enemy encampment Bravo," Mills reported. "It's heavily guarded and seeded with arcane traps and alarms. We can't sneak in easily."

"King Falcon, Roger," The radio buzzed back. "Standby."

Mills handed the handset back to the radioman and pulled out a bar of dried fruit candy to snack on while he waited for instructions.

Less than ten minutes later, the radioman hands the handset back to Mills, "Lt is on the line."

"King Falcon, all forces are to fend an assault on the encampments," The radio said. "Draw them out into an ambush. Should enemy fail to respond, harass them till they do so. Out"

"Hell yeah!" Mills grinned and went off to find the rest of the company commanders to discuss their attack plans.


Titanna dressed in her sleeping gown sat on the edge of her bed fussed over by her two attendants, one of them brushing her golden hair while the other applying some ointment on her wounded shoulder.

"My Lady, your wound shouldn't leave any scars," Her attendant happily informed Titanna who nodded absentmindedly. She was brooding over the fact that the strange enemy has such powerful creatures and magic, she wondered how to defeat this strange force when suddenly yells and cries rang out from outside her tent.

She brushed away her two attendants and strolled out of her tent while her attendants quickly draped a long coat over her shoulders to cover her thin gown. "What is happening?"

Her four house guards at the entrance of her tent gave a quick bow and reported, "It seemed like the enemy is attacking us, my Lady!"

"From where?" She demanded as she looked away from the eye searing illumination spells that were drifting in the air.

"From the South of the camp!" Her guards replied just as a couple of commanders came running up.

"The enemy is attacking both our camps!" Both commanders chorused. "Their strange magic is killing our men behind the walls!"

A sudden explosion rocked the camp and a small ball of fire rosed from the southern walls. Titanna covered her ringing ears from the loud thunderous roar. "Rush the enemy! Close up to them as fast as possible! Prevent them from casting their magic!"

"Yes, my lady!" The two commanders ran off to give the orders to sally out to fight the enemy.

"Get me into my armor!" She turned and walked back into her tent while her attendants grabbed her armor off the stand. She hastily donned her armor over her sleeping gown and buckled on her sword belt while her maids worked on her greaves and bracers.

Once she was armored up, she quickly left the tent where a dozen of her house guards awaited her with her land dragon mount. The vicious reptile hissed and cooed as she rubbed its neck before she mounted its back and grabbed a shield from one of the pages. "Move!!"

She wheeled her mount towards the South wall where the gates had opened up and forced her way through the crowd of infantry pouring out of the camp to attack the enemy. In the dim light of the illumination spells, she saw scores of bright flashes and thunderous roars appearing along the tree line and realized those must be the spells cast by the enemy!

Once she and her guards left the camp and with the way before her had cleared of friendly troops, she drew her sword and pointed to the tree line that was over two hundred paces away and yelled, "FORWARD!"

The infantry cried out a war cry and they ran forward with their shields up while Titanna pushed her mount into a quick trot. She vaguely heard sounds of metal against metal and saw dozens of men flopping down with dark stains on their armor. "KEEP YOUR SHIELDS UP! DON'T STOP! CLOSE UP CLOSE UP!!!"

Seeing the distance closing to roughly a hundred paces, she quickened her mount and yelled, "CHARGEEEE!!!"

Hundreds of throats cried out after her and they all ran forward. Titanna leading the cavalry quickly overtook the running infantry and the thundering land dragons made the adrenaline in her blood surge. She screamed loudly with exhilaration as her mount charged faster and faster and the dark tree line rushed up before her.

Twenty paces... ten paces... and she was into the tree line! She peered into the dim lighting and saw several crouching figures just a short distance away from her. She leaned forward low over her mount and angled her shield in her left hand before her when suddenly she saw a blinding flash and a thunderous roar and something hit her with a force of a mighty hammer!

She got flung off the back of her mount and she slammed down on her back hard enough to knock the air out of her lungs. As she laid there curled up in pain and gasping for air, a sudden series of thunderclap erupted behind her and hideous screams rang out from hundreds of throats.

A note from neo Koh

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