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Extraction Point Beta

The force of the rotor effect whipped the grassed and leaves wildly as the members of Claymore One boarded the rear ramp of the Flying Banana. Wolf secured the girl onto the buckle seat while the rest stared at him with smirks on their faces.

Specialist Sergeant Tyrier walked over and took a look at the unconscious girl before he turned around and addressed the whole squad. "So, is this some kind of tradition we are gonna have for the future?"

"Picking up girls to bring back on every mission?" Tyrier grumbled. "Are we some kind of damsel in distress rescuers? Or some kind of hero?"

"Is this gonna be a thing in the future?" He asked again, looking at everyone strapped in, in the bay.

"You saved that tom boy from the Hero," Tyrier pointed to Histu before turning to Young. "And you picked up those two companions of the Hero."

"As for you," He pointed to Loke. "You picked up that boy and his girlfriend from Sin City."

"Now, our farking new guy picks up a beast girl..." Tyrier growled. "What is it with you guys?"

Altied giggled as he listened to their squad leader's complaint. Tyrier snapped his eyes to Altied and added. "You are worse! You pick up some curse from a goddamn Necromancer! And you still dare to laugh now!"

"Who are we?" Tyrier asked.

"The Hundred and First!" The men chorused loudly over the helo rotors.

"Good that you know!" Tyrier growled. "Now stop this business of picking up strays! We are killers! Not babysitters! Is that clear?"

"Yes, Sir, Yes!" The men chorused loudly again.

As the helo made its way back, the second rocket barrage screamed it ways over and balls of flames and smoke rose up behind them, turning the forest glowing red in the night.

-----

Northern Front, Orwell's Point Defense Line

The Rock grunted with effort as he and other members of his squad pried loose the dragon's carcass lodged into the soil. Another group of men lassoed the carcass and everyone put their backs into it and dragged the carcass off the trench.

A wagon called a flatbed, reversed it way over and men dragged the dead dragon up before securing it tightly with ropes. The Rock sat down on the side and took out his canteen of water to drink while his buddy also joined him.

"Looks like lunch and dinner will be dragon sandwiches and stew!" His buddy watched the vehicle drive off with the dragon carcass. "Never expected to see the day of so many dead dragons that they can use them to feed us lowly soldiers, eh?"

The Rock nodded wordlessly as his attention was instead focused at the rows of stripped Imperial dead each covered in a white cloth or blanket. Piles of armor and weapons laid like small mountains of tribute rested next to the dead. Already the bodies were being carried onboard wagons that will bring them somewhere to be buried or burned.

"Hey, Cork?" His buddy waved a hand in front of him. "You bothered by the dead?"

The Rock frowned as he considered his answer. "A little, I guess... After all, those men have lives, just like... us..."

"True, true," His buddy nodded. "Than they should just mind their own business and not come try to kill us."

"If they did not want to kill us, we won't have to kill them," His buddy simply said. "And we won't be here in the bloody mud either!"

The Rock gave a rare smile at his only friend here. "You are right. If there are no wars, there will be no deaths."

"But, I don't see how we can stop or win this war," The Rock sighed. "The Emperor... He stops at nothing to get what he wants..."

"You sound like you know the Emperor himself!" His buddy laughed. "We just leave the big thinking to the Lords and Commanders! We just do what they tell us!"

The Rock laughed along with his buddy and nodded, "Yes, we just follow orders and keep our heads down!"

"Yeah!" His buddy grinned. "Come on, the Sarge is calling us!"

The Rock nodded and stood up. He took a last look around the battlefield, seeing the destruction wrought by the SDF against the Imperial Third Army and silently gave a prayer to the dead.

-----

Falledge, Northern Front 'Nova' Command Headquarters

Colonel Frank tapped his finger on the edge of the map table as he watched the Tactical Officers perform a battle simulation representing their situation. After a while, when the end results were clear, he clapped his hand and stopped the battle sim.

"Alright, good work everyone," He said to the staffers. "Take a fifteen minute break and we do a debrief."

The men all filed out of the room to go to the toilet or get some refreshments while Frank remained behind staring at the map table. "Top, what do you think?"

Master Sergeant 'Top' Pike, frowned and he tapped at the icon representing the ruins of Norshelm. "That's the problem we are facing."

"The Imperial Fleet had landed and taken shelter in those ruins," Pike said. "So far our bombing efforts aren't really doing much, other than forcing them to turtle in."

"As for the First Imperial Army, First and Second Battalion has them in their pocket already and all remains are just a simple mopping up op,"

"As for the Second Imperial Army here and the Third here," Pike pointed on the map between the two cities. "The Second Army is bogged down here while the Third just took a heavy defeat in terms of their aerial dragons and troops."

"All our current forces are engaged with these two Imperial Armies," Pike said. "And we have no troops to check that force the Imperial Fleet landed at Norshelm."

Frank nodded as the previous few simulated war games had shown how the army at the ruined city came smashing its way down to flank the Northern Front before they can move any substantial force to block them.

The only option was to use the PT boats and hit the Imperial force as they attempt a river crossing and harass them as much as possible. But that was only possible if the Imperials push in the direction of the river.

"We did not expect this force to appear at all," Frank said. "Intel did not even catch word of it until it was too late for us."

"And most of our artillery assets are deployed around Falledge and are busy dealing with the First and Second Imperial Army," said Pike.

"Yes, our original plans was to steamroll their right flank all the way to Orwell's Point," Frank said. "But this new force puts a dent in our plans. Plans never seemed to go as planned."

"The SDF stationed at Orwell's Point is already deployed against the Third Army," Frank continued. "If this fourth force comes knocking at our doors, even our reserves cannot reach the city in time."

"Keep bombing them," Pike suddenly said. "Delay them as long as possible while the reserve Battalion rushes over."

"Strip the PT boats of their rocket pods and use them as stationary artillery platforms," Pike added. "Get whoever and whatever you can to build a forward fort here."

Pike's fingers tapped on a spot of the map where a village icon stood next to the river, called Twin Fork.

"It's near enough to our lines to be reinforced within an hour and also forward enough to watch over the Imperials in Norshelm," Pike said. "If they attempt to land on the marshes to our right, we can use the rockets to bombard them."

"If they attempt to rush us," Pike continued. "A couple of companies stationed there can hold them off long enough to either evacuate by the river or till reinforcements come."

"We have to strip some troops from the lines and put them forward there," Pike said. "As for how to build the fort under their nose..."

"There's piles of prefab concrete that's supposed to be used for housing and reinforcing the city walls at Orwell's Point, right?" Pike grinned. "Get the barges to ship them up to the village and let the engineers build a fort during night time. It will give those Imperial bastards a heart attack when they see a fort suddenly appearing the next day!"

"Ha!" Frank laughed. "You sly old fox!"

-----

Northern Front, 37 Km North of Orwell's Point, Village of Twin Fork

The village was named Twin Fork after the two identical boulders next to the forked road. When the two companies of SDF and the single Marine company disembarked off the barge late afternoon, they found the small fishing village had long been abandoned in face of the Imperial invasion.

The troops quickly started digging in around the village while bombers flew overhead and lobbed their bombs down to keep the Imperials busy. When night came, barge after barge came up from the river and started depositing machinery and prefabbed concrete pieces.

Soon after several hours, a simple squarish fort was established, the thick concrete slabs acted as a wall surrounded the village of Twin Fork. The troops made use of the existing buildings for their lodging and the Officers and NCOs warned the men repeatedly not to steal or damage any property.

When the first rays of the sun shone down on the village, it was totally transformed. Coils of barbed wire surrounded the tiny fort and even the tops of the walls. Towers manned by machine gunners had popped up around all corners of the wall while troops manned the two storey high walls.

Bunkers for ammunition and supplies were still being dug while the PT boats docked one by one and the crew carefully removed their onboard rocket pods that were shifted to dug gun pits. Preparations for the Imperials were underway and with the constantly bombing of ruins of Norshelm, the Imperials were still clueless that a fort had suddenly appeared overnight right under their noses.

-----

Third Imperial Army Camp

Alberto Rothschild was feeling panicky as he paced up and down the richly carpeted floor of his tent. Gold gilded furniture placed around the tent showed off his wealth but he paid no attention to his surroundings as he bit his nails while pacing.

He did not expect that the rebels had managed to repeal his night attack after he boasted before the Emperor and many other nobles. Now he was wondering how to save his own skin.

"My lord!" A voice called out from the entrance of his tent. "The commanders are here."

"Come in!" He replied back as he quickly took a seat and did his best to school his expression to one of calmness.

The commanders of various legions under his command entered and they bowed and only sat down while Alberto gave his permission. "My lord... we have suffered great casualties from... the night raid..."

"I know!" Alberto put on a false bravado in front of the commanders. "It was to test the enemy's power!"

"But my Lord," One of the legion commanders stood up angrily. "More than half of our troops were destroyed by the rebels! Not to mention almost the entire wing of dragons!"

"So?" Alberto narrowed his eyes at the flustered commander as he did not care for his tone. His panic replaced by indignant. "This just proves that the enemy has powers far greater than ours! We will move to another location and attack again!"

The commanders were confused by his words. Even the legion commander standing was taken back by his words, "Attack again in another location?"

"More than half the army was killed or captured. Morale is all time low in the army!" The commander growled as he tried to keep his temper in check. "All for what? Just to say the enemy is stronger? And now, you want us to attack in another location?"

"Why are you all so stupid?" Alberto frowned. "If the enemy here is stronger, than of course, we move to attack from another area and breakthrough into their lines!"

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