Edge of the Northern Front

Moel's fists whitened with rage as he clenched them tightly against the reins of his war dragon. He watched the defeated elements of his troops retreating haphazardly in a disgraceful and disorderly manner to the rear and swallowed down his rage.

He tugged his reins savagely and jerked his mount around and retreated away from the front after casting a last look of hatred at the smoke covered enemy lines. "Regroup the men!"

"Stop their mad retreat!" He ordered his aides. "This is a disgrace!"

"Commanders! Control your men!" Moel roared at his nearby troops. "Any man who runs will be given twenty lashes of the whip!"

The nearby soldiers hearing his threat paused in their steps and made their stand hesitated. The red faced officers and commanders quickly chided the frightened men and restored ordered in among the ranks.

Moel fell back to their camp with his mind racing at the power of the rebels that he had dismissed the reports from his executed commanders' previous encounters as mad rantings and excuses of a defeated soldier.

Now he knew differently, and he lamented the fact he had those commanders beheaded for their failure. He glanced at the routed soldiers and cursed inwardly, knowing it will take some time to gather the men's courage and reform their ranks for another assault.

He stormed into the command tent and glared at the Scorpion Legion commander and yelled, "Everyone out!"

The Rock's expression barely changed and he gave a nod to his aides who saluted and left the tent with the rest of the staff. "You lost?"

"You long knew this would happen!" Moel roared fiercely as he slammed his helm on the table. "What else do you know and not telling me!"

The Rock barely showed any reaction at the outburst, instead, he set down his writing tools and leaned back on his chair and studied the red faced Moel intently.

"Sit down and stop disgracing yourself!" The Rock finally spoke. "I do not answer to you."

Moel glared at the Rock before grabbing a goblet and a jar of wine and sat down. "You better explain yourself! I don't care how the Emperor favors you! You better tell me everything involving these... United Nations rebels!"

"There is nothing much to be said," The Rock simply replied. "Just that it appears they came upon some heritage of either the Gods or Demons..."

"A heritage from the Age of Gods?" Moel's eyes widened. "If that is true... how can we ever defeat them!"

"Blah..." The Rock waved his hand dismissively at Moel's words. "Its just heritage... we too have some!"

"Wait... you mean..." Moel suddenly jolted up as he stared at the Rock. "Those..."

"Yes, the Bronze Men are the results of a heritage from ancient times!"


Northern Shard River

"Fire in short bursts!" Yelled the XO of the Daisy as the fifty cal gunner on the top of the flying bridge let loosen a barrage at the chaotic flapping wings hovering over their position. "Conserve your ammo! Don't bloody waste them!"

"I KNOW!" Yelled the gunner as he grunted with effort, swinging the twin fifties after the flying dragons, trying to track them as they swooped over and drop firebombs at them. "Bloody dragons are everywhere!"

The Daisy gunned its engines as it sought to escape the diving Imperial dragons, the pilot running at cruising speed to conserve their limited fuel. As the day dragged on, they were unfortunate to be spotted from the skies from a patroling Imperial dragon and the rest were history.

"STARBOARD NOW!" Yelled the XO from the flying bridge as he eyed the crew of the swooping dragon that flung a blackish object down.

The pilot inside the wheelhouse quickly spun the wheel, throwing the whole PT boat to sharp curve as the firebomb landed into the meter high water spray and burst into a ball of flames that continued burning even on the water surface.

Quark yelled angrily into the intercom, "Take that bloody dragon down!"

"Skip!" The pilot said as he wiped the sweat off his forehead. "At this rate, we can't keep going till nightfall! We will run out of fuel if this keeps up!"

"Shit!" Quark cursed, knowing their game was up. With the Imperials dragons hounding from above, they couldn't find a place to hide and wait till nightfall to sneak past the Imperial barges blockading the river.

"Fark it!" Quark made a split second decision. "Pilot, push out to the main river! Navigator, advise the route to take!"

Next, he picked up the intercom and broadcast to the entire crew, "All hands, brace yourselves! We are breaking out from the blockade! Every man here has already gone beyond the call of duty! Now I ask for you to do so one more time! Man your stations, we will break out from the Imperials and head home!"

"AYE AYE SKIPPER!" The crew roared out enthusiastically and they quickly jumped to their action stations.

"Alright! You heard the Skipper!" The XO on the flying bridge yelled out into the wind. "Make your shots count! Twenty mikes are to only engage large vessels! The fifties to keep the skies clear for us!"

The Daisy's armament consisted of a single dual 20 mm electric powered mount forward at the bow and another at the aft. Next to the flying bridge sat a dual .50 cal mount and on both sides of the boat were single .50 cals with a gun shield.

The Daisy charged down the river tributary as fast as it could, its shallow bottom ripping the low roots of the trees of the river as it raced off with several dragons circling around it.

They sped from one tributary to another as the navigator used his memory to guide the pilot back to the main river and after an hour of running, they finally saw the river ahead of them enlarging.

The Daisy had suffered a couple of near misses from the firebombing dragons which caused first degree burns to some of the top side crew serving as gunners on the gun mounts.

The pilot skillfully cornered the PT boat as it came barreling out from the side river and into the main river flow and before them, a couple of Imperial river barges with fluttering blue and silver flags sat covering the river.

"Alright! This is it, boys!" Quartz yelled into the intercom, "Its make or break time! BRACE YOUR SELVES!"

As they neared the two Imperial river barges, the crew onboard the two barges had long been alerted to their presence. The shipboard ballistas were readied and presented at the incoming vessel while archers and ship mages prepped their weapons and spells.

"All the Gods please bless us!" Whispered the pilot as he nervously rubbed his sweaty palms against his sweat drenched naval uniform. "Give us a miracle!"

He aimed the PT boat right between the two barges where a space barely large enough for an Imperial barge to squeeze through. But space was way more than enough for the smaller and slim PT boat to go through.

"GUN ONE! TARGET THE PORT SIDE SHIP!" The XO roared at the gunners. "FIRE!"

The forward open turret of the dual 20 mm autocannon manned by the gunner and his assistance, squeezed the butterfly triggers of the guns. The twin barrel autocannon barked one after the other constantly, the muzzle spitting out white tracers bolts and superheated lead directly at Imperial barge holding its station on the left side of the river.

The distance was around three hundred meters which for the 20 mm autocannon, was well within its effective range. The bouncing of the PT boat spoiled the first several ranging shots and the gunner quickly corrected and the next burst had the majority of the shells impacting against the heavy timbers of the barge, rocking it on its axis.

"Keep it up!" The XO screamed with elation as he observed the shots landing on the Imperial barge. As they were charging in a straight line, the aft 20 mm gun couldn't rotate enough to fire, hence their firepower was halved.

Despite that, the effects of the 20 mm against the Imperial barges made out of wood were devastating. Rounds that did not penetrate caused spalling from the heavy timbers, throwing razor sharp splinters as long as a person's arm into unprotected flesh.

The crew of the circling dragons seeing the carnage wrought upon the barges cried out in dignified fury and ordered their dragons to swoop down, wanting vengeance for their comrades.

"Fifties!" The XO seeing the mid weight dragons swooping down to attack, quickly ordered. "Keep those bastards away from us!"

"Twenty! Aim for any mages you see! Followed by the ballistas!" He yelled next to the 20 mm gunner.

Quark gripped the armrests of his chair nervously as the distance closed between them and the blockading barges. "Come on... come on..."

"All hands prepare for evasion action!" He thumbed the intercom as he watched the enlarging shapes of the barges. "BREAK TO THE STARBOARD SIDE NOW!"

The pilot spun the steering wheel and threw the vessel into a sharp curve as suddenly half a dozen black ballista bolts impacted near their previous position, throw large water splashes up.

Quartz mentally counted down the seconds in his mind as he waited for the next barrage of ballistas, mentally timing the enemy's rate of fire.

He guessed that the enemy ballista crew will take roughly a minute to reload the ballistas and in one minute, they can cover a lot of distance!

Suddenly the skies seemed to darken slightly and heavy thuds could be heard resonating off the hull. The intercom squawked and the voice of the XO came in, "TAKING HEAVY ARROW FIRE!"


The pilot immediately threw the boat into a random maneuver as best as he could. There was only so much room to maneuver in the river and they could only rely on their speed to dodge most of the projectiles thrown their way.

The barge on the left of the river was badly battered by the 20 mm and the gunner quickly switched target, doing his best to keep his shots from missing the next barge but with the sudden twists and turns, it was hard for him to land his shots.

As they came closer, the Daisy rocked wildly as a ballista bolt punched into the forward hull, shattering the crew bunks and almost flung the entire PT boat over.

The crew screamed as they suddenly felt gravity disappearing and the boat landed with a bone breaking slam back into the water a second later.

Quartz slammed his jaws together from the impact and nearly bit his tongue off. Luckily most of the crew were restrained down if not they would have been flung off the boat from the sudden impact.

But the support crew under the decks were not so lucky as they bounced against the bulkheads and had items rain all over them.

And suddenly they were between the two Imperial barges and the river before them was empty! But the PT boat appeared to have slow down.

"Damage report!" Quartz spat a mouthful of blood out of his mouth and grab his uniform, pressing down against his stinging tongue. "Talk to me!"

"Top side all green!" The XO's voice came in from the speakers. "Bruised but all in one piece!"

"We are losing speed!" The pilot moaned. "I'm seeing lots of red lights on my panel!"

"Engine room?" Quartz quickly asked next. "Status?"

"The chief is knocked out cold!" A trembling voice replied. "The engine is making some strange noises and the previous repair patches to the hulls had all came out from the impact! We are taking in water!"

"Shit!" Quartz cursed just as he heard the aft 20 mm gun firing. "I'm going down to check the damage! Try to get us as far away from the enemy ships!"

"Aye, aye, Skip!"

A note from neo Koh

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neo Koh


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