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First Imperial Army, Order of Shadows Camp

Muffled screams came from inside the tent in the middle of the camp. The guards ignored the screams as much as they could while the others kept as far away from the tent. Thos wearing his signature featureless helm strolled paused just before the tent's entrance as another cry rang out.

He ducked his head into the tent and found the Joker with beads of sweat rolling down his half naked body. The Joker held a whip in his hand as he brought it down on to the naked cowering beast slave's back, making the girl scream in pain.

"Lord General Kotor has yet to send any new orders to us," Thos said. "It is highly strange, for the General is not someone who neglects to inform us of the situation."

The Joker took a pause and threw the blood soaked whip to the side. He picked up a towel and wiped the sweat off his face and body before he turned to Thos. "No word from the General?"

"No, even our men have yet to return," Thos replied.

"Stange indeed," The Joker sat down and took a swill off the flagon of wine on the table. "Our scouts?"

"Nothing from them," Thos replied again. "Other than the new force of rebel soldiers that came to reinforce the city the other day, there is no new movement from the rebels."

Hearing the news, the Joker's eyes darkened. "Damn those, reinforcements! If not for them, we will be dining and sleeping inside the city by now!"

"These new troops seemed to be those... barbarian soldiers we heard so much of," Thos said. "They are rumored to be fierce and highly trained."

"If they come to reinforce the city," Thos's helm tilt to one side. "We might find it harder to breach their defenses."

"Hmph!" The Joker spat on the side. "They are just wild people and peasant scum! How can they compared to us Knights?"

"You seemed to have forgotten about their thunder weapons," Thos gave a remainder. "Those barbarian troops seemed to carry a more powerful version of the thunder weapons."

The Joker's expression changed and he stood up suddenly and paced angrily around the table before he stopped next to the whimpering beast slave and kicked her. "Shut your crying!"

The beast girl covered her mouth with her hands and stifled her tears of pain while the Joker turned to Thos and said, "Double the guards, and have our scouts report in every half turn of the glass tonight."

"Tell the men we will move out in first and make a new camp," The Joker ordered. "Send more men to General Kotor and find out what is happening on his side."

"Yes, my Lord," Thos gave a bow and retreated out of the tent.

The Joker sat down again and his mood sour. "Once the General joins us, I shall paint the walls red with their blood!"

-----

Lance Corporal Wolf of the Hundred and First Arcane Tactics and Intervention, Team Claymore One turned as still as stone as he hugged the shadow of the tree he was next to when a trio of patrolling Imperials came within a hand's reach to his position.

He immediately held his breath and prayed to the Gods for the Imperials to not spot him. He slowly released his held breath once the three Imperial soldiers past by his position without any clue of his presence.

Wolf waited for the glow of the torches to disappear in the darkness before he crawled his way across the bush trail used by the Imperial sentries. "Four to Three, hold position!"

Wolf immediately froze as he followed the command.

"Four to Three, there is a pair of sentries to your left, ten meters away." His radio whispered in his ear piece.

Wolf slowly moved his head and tried to spot the sentries in the dark but he couldn't see anything with his night vision goggles. "Move ten steps to your right."

He followed the orders and carefully stepped ten steps to his right and paused, waiting for the next order. "Move forward and keep the tree to your left. It should cover you from the sentries."

"Should?" Wolf whispered back his reply.

"Yes, should..." Came back the reply. "Now move!"

Wolf sighed as he mumbled to himself, "You're not the one whose ass is hanging out here..."

He crept forward to the tree before him and making sure use the trunk of the tree to block his view from the sentries, he peered out of the edge of the foliage and broke out into a grin. "Three, to One."

"One. Send."

"Three, I got eyeball on enemy campsite," Wolf reported back his sighting and he slipped off his night vision and used a pair of binoculars to view the campsite hidden in the forest. "Counting at least twenty tents, over."

Wolf continued to sweep his binos across the campsite. Hidden among the trees and under a thick canopy, he caught glimpses of tents lit by torches and shadows of men. "Three to One, estimate, a thousand or two of Imperials."

"One, roger, standby."

Wolf crouched lower and made himself comfortable as he waited for the next orders. Not long later, his radio crackled. "Three, this is One, over."

"Three, send."

"One, HQ wants you to tag the camp with a beacon. How copy?"

Wolf cursed inwardly as he heard the order, "Three, confirm tag with beacon? Over."

"Affirmative."

Wolf sighed and peeked around his location before he replied. "Three, camp security is too tight, might not be able to drop beacon on target."

"One, as long beacon is within hundred meters of the camp site. Wait for distraction. over"

"Three, roger..." Wolf started to crawl his way slowly forward and rolled himself into the next cover as he made his way closer to the camp. He stayed low and wondered what are they gonna do to distract the enemy.

"One, distraction in... three... two... one... mark!" Suddenly Wolf felt the ground shake slightly followed by a loud boom in the distance.

Immediately like a hive of angry ants, the Imperials sentries turned their attention to the sudden explosion and Wolf quickly made use of the opportunity to sneak in closer to the camp.

He hugged the trees and stuck to the shadows as he came to the edge of the camp. He eyed a tree somewhat near a large cluster of tents which the Imperials came boiling out of the tents in full armor.

"One, second distraction in three... two... one, mark!" Another thunder rumbled in the distance and the distraction had the Imperials occupied, allowing Wolf to sneak into the camp and allowing him to reach the tree he judged to be the easiest to climb.

He quickly climbed up the tree and soon disappeared into the branches. He gently snapped off a long branch and climbed to the top most branch of the tree which can support his weight. He took out the beacon and triggered it before using roped to bound the beacon to the end of the tree branch he broke earlier.

He pushed the branch with the beacon at the end out of the tree's canopy before securing it with rope. "Three to One. Beacon up. Please check."

"One, roger. Standby."

-----

Over a kilometer in the air space above the area of operations, an ailing Owleye UAV droned on as performed its last air surveillance mission before getting decommissioned. Its electronic smart brain chip beeped happily as it watched over an sea of featureless forest. Suddenly, a signal appeared and blinked steadily in the sea of forest and the Owleye turned its sensors to cover it.

It identified the signal and deemed it to be a friendly beacon while it streamed live footage over to its control station, dozens and dozens of kilometers away. A string of binary code was transmitted over from control, telling it to keep eyes on the beacon.

The UAV chipped and beeped in acknowledgment as it tilted its silent quadrotors and drifted over the beacon and started hovering over the area and streaming all data back.

-----

"One, three. Good signal, pull out now."

"Three roger..." Wolf replied and started his slow climb down the tree. He looked around his surroundings and noticing no one, he dropped softly down from the tree and quickly rolled into the shadow of a nearby tent.

He waited and observed his surroundings before he made his move again, creeping from one shadow to another. As he reached the edge of the camp, he froze in place as he heard the stomp of boots approaching.

Dozens of soldiers were returning from their post after they deemed the sudden explosions in the distance to be unthreatening to their camp. With no cover in sight and only the shadow of the tents, Wolf flattened himself as low as he could. He couldn't use any magic to hide as it might trigger any form of magical intruder detection spells

Wolf kept as still as possible and forced his frantically beating heart to calm down as he watched dozens of soldiers walked past him. Finally, what seemed like an eternity, the Imperial soldiers walked by without noticing him and returned to their tents.

Feeling relieved, he climbed to his feet and as he stepped out between the tents, he knocked into a body. Instinctively, he shot his hand out and gripped the person by the throat in a chokehold. As he held down the person, he felt the person he was grabbing to be very thin and wearing a collar of sorts.

He quickly dragged the body away into the trees while making sure no one noticed them before he checked who he had grabbed. To his surprise, he saw it was a beast girl with a slave choker. Under the dim torches of the camp, he noticed that the beast slave was all skin and bones, and had wounds all over her body.

Wolf sighed as he wondered what should he do. He drew out his combat knife and placed the blade against the thin threadbare tunic she was wearing, right under the ribs where the blade will strike the heart. He steeled himself for the task but hesitated before he kept his blade away.

"Damnit!" He hissed softly and lifted the unconscious girl up in a fireman carry. He couldn't force himself to kill an unarmed innocent. "Three to All, on my way out with a plus one, requesting cover."

"One, Three. Come again? Plus one?"

"Three, affirmative. Plus one."

"One... roger. Head to Extraction Point Beta. The others will cover your retreat. Out."

The girl was surprisingly light as Wolf picked his way across the forest, dodging sentries and trying to stay hidden while carrying another person on his back. He was so going to get scolded by Tyrier once they made the extraction for bringing back extra luggage.

"One to All. Fire mission inbound in five mikes. Stay clear of target area!"

"Oh shit!" Wolf cursed as he picked up the pace. He ignored all stealth as he sought to get as far away from the beacon which he had placed as HQ was gonna down an artillery strike right on top of it.

"WHO GOES THERE!?" Suddenly a voice broke the silence of the night as an Imperial sentry heard his passage in the forest.

Wolf increased his pace, hoping that the sentry might mistake him for a wild animal in the forest. But his luck failed as suddenly balls of illumination spells burst into existence around him, nearly blinding him with his night vision on.

He yanked off his night vision goggles and kept on running, as the bright white illumination spells lit his way for him, while the trees cast ominous shadows around. "INTRUDER! INTR- UGKkk!?"

"Four, Three. Keep running. I got them on my sights."

With their cover blown, the men of Claymore One providing overwatch started sniping at any sentries and Imperials that appeared, covering Wolf's retreat.

"One to All, take cover! Incoming!"

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