Mills crouched next to a section of Marines who were taking pot shots at the Imperial camp. The floating illumination spells and flares backlit the guards on the wall allowing the Marines to easily make accurate shots over the less than two hundred meters distance between them.
Suddenly like an ant hill after getting poked, the gates swung opened and scores of shielded infantry poured out with a gaggle of cavalry mixed up among the soldiers.
"Alright, boys!" Mills yelled happily. "Here they come! Let's give the Blue Boys a nice show!"
The Marines fired faster, barely needing to aim at the thick clusters of troops. The powerful 6.8 mm rounds easily ignored the shields and plate mail of the soldiers and sometimes even over penetrating and hitting an Imperial at the back.
Mills watched calmly as the Imperials slowly and steadily formed up and advanced. He might not like the brutality and ideals of the Imperials but he got to admit that he admired their guts to continue advancing under rifle fire.
"Cease fire! CEASE FIRE!" Mills and the rest of the NCOs yelled down the line as they watched the Imperial cavalry moving forward. "Pull back to the second line!"
Their plan was to entrap the Imperial cavalry among the thicket to prevent them from breaking into their lines and allowing the Marines to pick them off while they were bogged down. Only a single platoon was committed to the attack while the other platoon had some other mission up the river.
This meant less than thirty men against an estimated two to three thousand Imperials in the camp!
The whole Falcon company has only a total of 110 men. With the Company split in half, two platoons on each side of the river, the plan was to use guerrilla tactics to force the enemy out and bled them out till they have no choice but to retreat.
The Marines fell back in good order, retreating fifty meters from the tree line and they hurdled behind roots and tree trunks while waiting for the cavalry to appear before them.
Thundering hooves of the land dragons pounded louder and louder and suddenly in the illumination provided by the light spells and flares, shadowy figures emerged into the Marines carefully prepared fire zones.
"FIRE!!" The order rolled down the thin line of Marines and almost immediately the harsh roars of rifles and machines guns rippled out.
Mills kept an alert eye around his surroundings, only firing a shot when a centaur like shadow appeared before him and felling the rider.
He slapped the Marine next to him who held on to the detonator which linked to a daisy chain of claymores set up at the forest edge. The howls of the Imperials were just steps away from the claymores with the detonator was triggered.
Over a thousand Imperials carrying wood with steel reinforced shields entered the killing zone of the Claymores when they exploded.
Forty locally produced DM - 1 Claymore, all the stock the two platoons were carrying, were planted five meters apart and they occupied a tiny stretch of 200 meters along the tree line. Each was filled with 700 3.8 mm steel ball bearings detonated almost simultaneously as one when the electrical signal sparked the inner bursting charges.
28,000 steel ball bearings were flung out at an average velocity of 1,020 m/s over a 60 degree arc in front and were lethal to an effective range of 100 meters. Like an invisible slap from a mighty God's hand, the loose ranks of charging Imperials crumbled as the 28,000 steel ball bearings ripped into their bodies.
Those that were behind, luckily survived the frag blasts only to suffer from post traumatic stress disorder from seeing hundreds of their comrades frayed into meat shreds and blood mists before their very eyes.
Even those that avoided the sudden death, screamed in pain and terror from lost limbs and body parts. Others laid on the blood soaked grass crying for their parents among the pieces of mangled bodies.
"Fuck..." Mills whispered. It wasn't his first time seeing hundreds of men dying here but the scene always fucked with his sanity. He quickly put the scene out of his head and yelled. "Platoon Three! ADVANCE!"
Titanna stared at the dying glow of an illumination spell drifting between the cracks of the forest canopy and coughed wetly. She could only move one hand up and she wiped her mouth with her gauntleted hands and saw her fingers came away dark red.
She tried to move her body to a sitting position but she barely had the strength. Turning her head to the side, she saw her left arm bloodied and bent in an unnatural angle with the shards of her broken shield sticking out from the mangled bracer.
Giving up trying to move, she sighed and returned her eyes to the skies and a hideous face in black and green came into her dimming vision.
"Are... you... Death?"
Mills stood over an Imperial and was surprised to find it was a female. He vaguely remembered he fired at someone around this spot and wondered if he shot her.
Her golden hair frecked with blood and dirt spread out from underneath her like some kind of tapestry. Her left arm clearly broken from the angle it laid and from the broken shield, she must have tanked the rifle shot which knocked her off her mount. She whispered something too soft for him to hear as he stood over her.
Mills looked at her eyes slowly rolling upwards and sighed. He glanced up at the roars of rifle fire at the tree line and knew that the Imperials were being mopped up and in full retreat. He also saw the glow of flames in the distance and knew that the other Platoon has succeeded in burning the river barges beached on the river banks.
He reached down and felt her pulse on her pale neck, feeling a weakening pulse and he sighed again. "Damn, I just can't stand seeing a pretty gal die... even if she is the enemy..."
Mills stood up and sighed again, "What a waste. Damn girl shouldn't be playing with swords..."
He took a few steps away from the dying girl before he stopped and turned around again. "Urghhh!!"
Lieutenant Silverstar nimbly crawled his way over the rope slung across the river and dropped down with barely a change in his breathing.
"Sir!" The officers and NCOs greeted their Company Commander as they gathered at the river bank.
"What's the situation on your side?" Lt Silverstar made way for another Marine as his men on the other side of the river slowly crawled over on the tight rope. "Casualties?"
"The Imperials are on full retreat," Mills reported. "We estimated the ambush last night cost them around five to six hundred men."
"We only have a few minor wounds from tripping and idiots poking themselves in the dark," Mills continued. "Nothing too serious."
"The men are down to a third of their ammunition reserves," One of the NCOs added. "All our claymores are used up and the RPGs are down to their last shots."
"We occupied their camp and are inventorying what is usable and what is not," Mills said next. "We plan to burn whatever we don't need and unable to carry."
Lt Silverstar nodded, "Its the same on my side, they are in full retreat. Tallying up their loses here and on my side, we probably inflicted close to 30% of their remaining power here. Not to mention we dealt a serious blow to their morale!"
"Sir, we got some prisoners too," Mills added. "What are we gonna do with them?"
"Wounded?" Lt Silverstar asked. "We do have quite a few wounded Imperials on the other side, I plan to just give them some supplies and dropped them off on one of the still floating barges and let them paddle home."
"Understood," Mills nodded as the command party headed towards the Camp. "We should be able to clear the camp out in a couple of hours."
"Good, we will leave on two of the barges and burn the rest that hasn't been burn," Lt Silverstar ordered. "While the Imperials might be running, if they rally up again and push us hard, it will be hard for us to extract out."
"Platoon Two are loading up on the other side of the river," Lt Silverstar continued. "Once they have loaded everything, they will move the barge over to this side of the river."
Mills nodded as they entered the camp. "Sir, there is a prisoner I think you will wanna see."
"Oh?" Lt Silverstar raised an eyebrow at Mills's words. "An HVT?"
They entered a large extravagant tent where a couple of Marines stood watch outside. Inside the tent, Lt Silverstar was surprised to see two maids dressed in fashionable native dresses that were totally out of place on the battlefield tending to someone on the bed.
"That, as I gathered from the maids," Mills spoke on a lowered voice next to Lt Silverstar, "is the darling daughter of the Rothschild family who is the big shots running the show at the Norshelm City."
"Her name is Titanna Rothschild," Mills added. "And I think I am the one who shot her... But don't tell her that!"
"Ha!" Lt Silverstar laughed at Mills's embarrassed expression. "Okay!"
The maids glared angrily at the sudden laughter from Lt Silverstar who disturbed the rest of their mistress.
Lt Silverstar ignored the dagger stares from the maids and strolled next to the large ornate bed. He used to think that owning something like this on the battlefield was something natural, but after going through Boot Camp and Officer Cadet School, he lamented the waste of resources needed to transport such a useless item onto a battlefield.
"Ms Rothschild," Lt Silverstar greeted the blonde hair girl laying on the bed with her shoulder in bandages and covered in blankets while Mills hovered closely behind him, "I am 2nd Lieutenant Silverstar, Commanding Officer of Falcon Company, 2nd Marine Battalion."
"Hmph!" The girl rolled her eyes and turned her head away in disdain.
*Cough* Mills covered his laughter behind a barely suppressed cough which made Lt Silverstar glare at him. Mills quickly looked away innocently.
"Ms Rothschild, you are now a prisoner of war," Lt Silverstar turned back and spoke in a more serious tone. "It is to your best interest to cooperate with us, or..." He left the threat unsaid.
The two maids tensed up and quickly pushed Lt Silverstar back away from the bed and their mistress. They glared angrily at him. "You dare threaten our mistress?"
Mills suddenly laughed wickedly and drew his sword bayonet out, "Well, if a soft approach doesn't work, don't blame us for going hard to you girls!"
He brandished his bayonet threateningly while advancing in an evil manner before the two maids who to his surprise stood their ground despite the fear in their eyes. "Heeheheheehehee..."
"Enough!" Titanna suddenly spoke and gestured her maids to the side. "What do you want? You scoundrels!"
Lt Silverstar glared at Mills who winked back and sheathed his bayonet before sighing and turned to Titanna. "We will give you two choices. Tell your men to surrender and give up advancing towards Orwell's Point immediately. We will allow you and your men to retreat back to Norshelm."
"Impossible!" Titanna did not even consider his words at all. "Orwell's Point is a fief of the Rothschild! We will never give it up!"
"You scoundrels will never be able to use me to fulfill your evil needs!" She growled until she clenched her arm in pain as she overexerted herself.
Lt Silverstar looked at Mills who shrugged. "Guess there is nothing to talk about."
"Well, then the last option is that you will be kept as a prisoner of war until your side decides to negotiate your release!"