"Look, do we need all three of us out to view the property?" Asked an irritated Mills as he, Sgt Tyrier and the Intel Officer shared a rocky carriage. He eyed their no nonsense working attire with jealousy as he was dressed up like a peacock up by the Rothschild's Princess.

A massive amount of fluff seemed to be the clothing of choice among the young nobles as was evidenced by the itchy material bursting out from his collar. He worn a hot and so called fashionably bright blue colored pea coat that ended with a 'V' shaped tailcoat with another red vest underneath that.

And to end it off, he had an oversized blue beret that hung down low, covering his ears like those hats of the old Earth artists usually wore. At first, when he came out of the dressing room, he felt like he was some kind of rich flop but the laughter that greeted him from the Marines made him change his mind very fast.

Still, Titanna and the rest managed to convince him that it was the fashion of young nobles and he has nothing to worry about! But still, seeing the rest who wore more sensible items of clothing made him feel overdressed and hot.

"You are the right," The Intel Officer gave a smile before he suddenly swung the door of the slow moving carriage open. "I should take my leave now and see you all back at the Mansion later in the day!"

With a small bag in his hands, the Intel Officer gave a nod before he hopped off the carriage and disappeared into the side of the woods.

"Erm... that was... fast..." Mills reached over and closed the door. "What was that all about?"

"Intel and their secrets," Sgt Tyrier of the Hundred and First replied matter of factly.

"Okay..." Mills sighed and stared out of the tiny window, seeing the blue green scenery flowing past their carriage slowly. "Three places to check out and we will be done for the day!"

The carriage continued on towards their first destination where it was a manor just on the outskirts of the city just barely within the city walls. It served as the Rothschild's training grounds for their Knights and during normal times, sat empty with only a small crew of servants maintaining the premises.

The guards waved them in after speaking with the coachman and seeing the letter with all the important looking seals given by Titanna. Mills glanced out of the window as the carriage passed by the gates and gave out a deep breath, "Alright, let's see if this place is suitable to be made into a base!"


Main Estate of House Taron

"What is that upstart sister of ours doing now?" Alberto Rothschild, the second eldest, tossed the letter scroll onto the table where several five others sat in high backed chairs.

Mallot Rothschild, next in line to Alberto, picked up the scroll and spread it out on the table and read it before he laughed. "Seems like she wants to gather as much of the nobles and guilds to her side."

"Yes, your sister appears to be doing that," A deep voice came from one of the two elderly men who clutched a jewel encased cane. He tapped his cane against the tiled floor and shook his head covered with silvery grey hair that reached his shoulders.

"But it is too late!" Another young looking man with similar features next to the old man added. "We have bribed everyone worth bribing to our side before her return!"

"Yes, Young Lord Taron," Another similarly aged man leaned forward on the table. "We have more than half the city guards and commanders swearing to our side already. What does she think she can do in this... party of hers?"

"Steve, enough..." The final member of the meeting rosed his hand to stop the man's words. "I am more worried about the army that returned with her. Most of those soldiers are Rothschild's men!"

"Do not worry, Father," The man named Steve spoke out. "I have visited their barracks, and those soldiers are beaten men!"

"They have lost the battle and returned with their tails behind their backs!" The Young Lord of Taron quickly added. "The people in the city are already looking down on them for losing the battle! Of course, fueled with a few well placed rumors, those soldiers will not be a threat to our army and mercenaries we have gathered!"

"Yes!" Both Alberto and Mallot grinned. "Those beaten soldiers will not be a match for our combined army when we take the walls and the castle!"

"Of course," Steve Deflin, the heir to House Deflin laughed. "The city will be taken for you brothers easily with our support! Once we have her in our hands, do not forget our deal!"

"That is for certain!" Alberto nodded smugly. "There is so much wealth to be shared here! Why, must we fight each other over it when we can work together to make gold?"

"Having a woman leading a Great House will lead to its fall!" The older Taron Lord sighed. "We are all old families here and have our own traditions. Where can a woman ever be able to hold on the reins of a Great House?"

"You are right, my Lord!" Alberto quickly agreed. "But most of the military power is in her hands..."

"Her military powers have waned," The current Lord of House Deflin smirked. "Even the Emperor will not be involved in the matters of inheritance!"

"But we lost the fight with those barbarians!" Mallot worriedly added. "Will the Emperor..."

"She was the overall commander of the army," Lord Deflin gave a sly smile. "That is why she lost the battle!"

"But our father and even the Lord Rock has failed..." Mallot frowned. "What if the Emperor blames us?"

"Ha, even the formidable Commander of the Black Scoporians has failed," Lord Deflin laughed, "What can the Emperor blame you for?"

"True," Alberto gave a calming gesture to his brother. "Calm down, if the Barbarians can defeat the Rock, what do you think you can do at this point? The Emperor won't direct his anger at us!"

"The important thing now is to ensure that our dear sister is uprooted from the family," Alberto gave a wicked smile. "We can present her to the Emperor for failing her duties!"

"Hahaha! Good!" The young Lord of Taron stood up and laughed. He took a goblet of wine from the table in front of him. "A toast! To our success and wealth!"

"Hear, hear!"

Both the Lords of House Taron and Deflin gave a sideward glance at each other and gave a knowing smile before they join the toast.


Mills sighed and tossed his oversized gaudy beret onto the seat of the carriage and his outer coat joined the hat. "Goddamnit! I rather wear heavy combat armor and full battle order than this shit!"

The Claymore One squad leader gave a grin and said, "Well, you did say you want to dress and act as a local noble..."

"Fuck this noble shit!" Mills took a canteen from the carriage stores and took a swill of the cooling water. "This shit can kill! Can't imagine why you people will wear this!"

Tyrier gave a laugh and shook his head, "Well, I remember watching that 'Discovery Channel' documentary about 'pee cocks'?"

"The brighter and more garnish looking, the better to attract the females!" Tyrier gave a wink. "So how are you and the Rothschild's girl doing? Need any advice?"

"Argh," Mills tossed the canteen into the carriage. "Not you too? I had love advice given to me by a damn soap opera addicted dragon of all things, now even Special Forces want a leg in and give me some love advice too?"

"Hahaha," Tyrier laughed. "Seriously? Blue Thunder gave you his wisdom? Hahaha!"

"Yea..." Mills grinned as he remembered what Blue Thunder advised him. "Cheese fries to keep the gal happy was his words of wisdom!"

"Pfft!" Tyrier shook his head in mirth. "Those damn dragons just love you hooman's cheese fries, don't they?"

"Yea, of all things..." Mills rolled his eyes. "I mean, pizza is pretty good too!"

"Well, the trolls love pizzas..." Tyrier added. "And the Orekins love fried chicken..."

"And you elves love burgers..." Mills finished off the sentence which Tyrier gave a smile and shrug. "Well, enough of talking about food, when we can't eat them out here!"

"True..." Tyrier turned his attention to the mansion. "This place isn't so defensible... Too near the city walls where they could mount a couple of siege engines and hammer the mansion from afar and they could spy on us easily too from the walls."

Mills nodded, "Yea... and the distance to the fence is too short, they can overwhelm our small force easily by charging through fences."

"Also we are not close to the inland sea," Mills pointed out. "Makes it hard for us to resupply or extract by water."

"So its a no," Tyrier declared, and he gestured their driver to prepare to move out. "We still got two more places to check out."

"Damn, why do we need to be posted here?" Tyrier grumbled as he climbed into the carriage. "I mean there's gonna be a civil war with all the Houses here trying to vie for control over the region right?"

"Isn't it a good thing for us?" Tyrier continued to ask. "I mean, I may be just a boot, but letting the Empire fall into infighting is good for us, right?"

Mills gave a shrug as the carriage started moving, "As you said, we are just boots, can't see the big picture. Let High Command do the planning, we just do the execution."

"But, don't you find it strange?" Tyrier gestured out the window. "Sending a small force out here, without proper supply lines, into hostile territory and all just to help the enemy stabilize the region."

"Maybe the higher ups want to make friends with the government here," Mills gave a guess. "It might also be a tactic."

"What tactic?" Tyrier leaned back on the hard seat. "A military coup?"

"Nah," Mills shook his head. "Well, I learn some stuff from Top that it is always better to have a forward base in the enemy territory than in our land."

"Why is that?" Tyrier asked curiously. "There's no advantage other than an early warning of an attack."

"Well, in my world, almost everyone has similar weapons, guns, bombs, planes, and missiles," Mills explained. "If your base is in the enemy's land, and if they attack you, there will be a chance that they are unwilling to destroy their own land, hence reduced bombings or targeted strikes."

"This, of course, increases the troops' survival rate, and also the land and structures that they bomb belong to the enemy in the first place," Mills grinned. "So our own land and infrastructure remain untouched."

"Even if we pulled out from the enemy land, their side of the infrastructure would be destroyed and they need to spend time to rebuild everything," Mills said. "It will cost them time, money, and effort to rebuild everything, while our own stuff is untouched."

"But this plan is only useful if the enemy has weapons like bombs," Tyrier said. "I still can't see any good for us to station out here."

"Well, maybe it is because there's a major port here," Mills gave another shrug. "And it is also the main trade and merchant hub here?"

"If we can control this city, even by having Titanna being our puppet," Mills said. "We could project our presence wider and deeper into the Empire."

"And, I don't think we can ever afford a war with the entire continent," Mills added. "I mean we can fight them off, but ultimately they have more bodies to throw at us than we have to block them."

"Unless we drop a nuke," Mills frowned. "I don't think we can ever win this war unless one side sue for peace..."

A note from neo Koh

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