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Northern Front

Marines and SDF companies were pulled off the lines and hastily transferred towards the east as they hurried to reinforce the eastern flank. Dozens and dozens of trucks shipped men, equipment, and supplies in an almost endless stream as they drove along the edges of the Uncharted Forest.

Imperial aerial scouts attempted to investigate were instead intercepted by the Airforce's AF - 1 Super Cobras. But despite all their efforts at keeping the Imperial guessing of their move, the news of the sudden and large movement of troops in the open towards the east came to the Imperial ears and eyes.

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Ruins of Norshelm, Admiral of the Grand Fleet Shelter

The ground stopped shaking and the endless drizzle of rock dust from the ceiling soon came to a halt. The Grand Fleet Admiral dusted his shoulders and sighed, feeling that how could someone of his prestige had to cower underground like rats from the enemy.

"Is it over?" He asked to the room filled with his Fleet Captains and aides.

"Yes, Lord Admiral!" One of his aides replied as he went out to check the situation. "The enemy flying crosses are gone!"

The Grand Admiral nodded and returned his attention to the map on the table. He tapped a spot on the map where a fishing village laid next to the main river just a day march south of their position. "You certain that the rebels had a fort here?"

Another aide bowed and replied, "Yes, Lord Admiral! Our scouts had checked three times! They are very certain that the enemy had constructed a fort there!"

"Impossible!" A Captain of the Grand Fleet spoke out sharply. "The day before there wasn't even any living in that village! Now the scouts tell us a fort had sprung up overnight? They need a Tenth Circle mage at least!"

Another Captain nodded, "He's right, there's no way the rebels have a mage above the sixth circle, much more a Tenth circle! Even us, the Empire only has a single Ninth Circle mage!"

"Could the Elementalists be helping out the rebels?" Another Captain asked. "If they had an earth Elementalist they could do that overnight..."

"Impossible!" The Captain that spoke first cut off the other's words. "The Emperor has the Elementalists under his thumb! If any dared to raise their hands against him..."

He did not need to finish his sentence as everyone knew what will happen to the Elementalists and their families should they turned against the Emperor.

"Could it be a rogue Elementalist?" The Captains started discussing this topic. "If its a rogue Elementalist, then the Empire's Elementalists will have to hunt him or her down, to prevent the Emperor's wrath on their families."

"Enough of this talk!" The Grand Admiral suddenly spoke out, leading the room to settle down. "We need to find a way to attack the rebels, or it will us to worry about our heads and not those Elementalists' families!"

"We need to find a way to avoid those heaven cursed flying crosses!" The Grand Admiral said. "Our mix troops of sailors and soldiers could not even take a shit without those damn flying crosses dropping their firebombs on us!"

"I suspect that the suddenly increased bombings by those flying crosses are to prevent us from attacking the new fort the rebels had built at that village!" A Captain voiced out his thoughts.

The Grand Admiral nodded, "Yes... it must be important if they have to do that... Could it mean that our presence is threatening their flanks?"

The rest of the Captains looked at each other and on the map. "My Lord, that could be true..."

"If that is the truth, we must make haste to push our men down to Orwell's Point before the enemy could reinforce their defenses!" Another Captain said.

The Grand Admiral rubbed his thick beard as he considered his Captains' words. "But how do we avoid the rebel's flying crosses? Our dragons are no much for their smaller flying crosses either!"

"And quickest way down is by the river, which is controlled by the rebels," He added in a sour voice. "And our ships hidden around the coves and marshes would risk getting destroyed by the rebels' flying crosses once they leave their hiding spots!"

"We can float the troops down the river in dinghies or small boats?" A Captain gave a suggestion. "Move at night, have the troops row down as close as possible and land on the shores."

"But our troops won't be able to see anything in the dark!" Another Captain pointed out.

"The rebels will be the same! They won't be able to see us too!" The Captain argued back. "If not we be forever sitting here at the mercy of the enemy's flying crosses!"

The rest of the Captains nodded and muttered agreement to the words. "We can split our troops two ways... Have the soldiers travel by land while our sailors travel by the river."

The Imperial Grand Fleet had roughly twelve thousand surviving soldiers and fifteen thousand sailors. They had enough supplies to last them two months and every day spent sitting on their asses was a day of supplies wasted. The Grand Admiral finally made up his mind and ordered. "We move out at night! Have the men build small boats from whatever materials they could get."

"I want the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Squadrons to set out just before the sunset to lure the enemy's flying crosses away from our troops!" The Grand Admiral tapped the map of the inland sea. "The three squadrons will be manned by a skeleton crew and basic supplies. Their role is to make the enemy think we are making a break out of the ruins!"

"Once the enemy has taken the bait," The Grand Admiral eyed the Captains of the three squadrons. "Make the enemy chase you as long as possible! Your ships are the fastest in the Fleet! The more time the enemy spends on chasing you means more time for our men to get closer to the enemy fort!"

"Your twelve ships will be instrumental in our victory or loss!" The Grand Admiral gave them a grave stare. "Do not fail the Fleet!"

The Captains commanding the three squadrons gave a salute to the Admiral proudly, knowing that they were given a great honor to help win the war.

"Go! We have much to prepare and not much time!" The Grand Admiral dismissed the Captains. "Victory be upon us!"

"VICTORY!"

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Northern Front, Twin Fork Fort

The Rock unconsciously smiled as he witnessed the Imperials approaching from the predicted paths and triggered off the traps that turned the surprised men into minced meat. He kind of understood how he was defeated now by the UN as he was witnessing almost the exact same thing happening now.

Despite the greatly outnumbered Marines and SDF troops, the Imperials were attacking in the same old fashion way, weathering the gunfire and artillery, hoping to breach the tiny fort's defenses by the sheer weight of numbers.

They could have done so except for the ingenious barriers that hindered their movements. Rows and rows of razor wire, which made the Rock wonder who did the craftsmen of the UN ever produce such a contraption so skillfully and in such large numbers.

While the Imperials attempted to navigate through the barriers of razor wire, the weapon that made the Rock very impressed and in awe of was the machine gun. The MG - 1, called the Rocker by the SDF troops due to the tempo of the firing that sounds like some rock music they been listening to lately while in the front lines.

The machine guns cut down the Imperials like paper targets so easily that the Rock had a rare feeling of honorless guilt. Yet at the same time, watching the hundreds of soldiers getting mowed down gave him a sick sense of enjoyment and rush.

The Imperial soldiers and sailors failed their attack for the fourth time of the day and they beat a hasty retreat leaving bodies scattered behind across the battlefield. The Rock could only shake his head at the way lives were wasted. He suddenly stopped himself and smiled ruefully as that was exactly what happened to him before.

"Ceasefire! Ceasefire!" The order rang down the line and the Rock took his finger off the trigger. "Ceasefire in effect! We are letting the Imperials collect their wounded and dead!"

The men around the Rock made noises of relief as it meant they could take a short rest. Surprisingly to the Rock he felt a sense of relief like the rest and he wondered if his heart was now here instead of the Empire.

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The Imperial City of Silverton, City Citadel, Great Hall

A body leaking blood was held between two guardsmen as they dragged the corpse out of the Great Hall. The Emperor tossed the blood stained sword to the side and took the scented hand towel offered by his eunuch. He wiped the blood off his hands and tossed the towel back before he sat down on the throne again.

The kneeling rows of minsters and generals did not dare to raise their heads as awaited their Emperor's judgment. "The First Army was defeated totally and the Second and Third are still stuck, unable to break the rebels lines?"

"What joke is this?" The Emperor covered his face as he leaned on one side of the throne. "Close to half a million soldiers... and yet, we could not even break the rebels' defenses?"

"Tell... Why should I keep the lives of your generals?" The Emperor growled as he stared down at the group of generals kneeling with their heads touching the floor at his feet. "Useless!"

"My Emperor!" The generals cried out for mercy. "The enemy employs demonic weapons and powers that are strange and new to us! Their powers are far greater than ours..."

"ENOUGH EXCUSES!" The Emperor slammed his fists on the armrest of his throne. "I want to see results! Not excuses!"

"Maybe I should just have all of you dragged off to become a Bronze man..." The Emperor's eyes glittered dangerously. "By doing so, at least you all can be of some use in the end!"

"No, my Emperor!" The generals begged as they kowtowed frantically. "We know our mistakes! We shall not repeat them ever again!"

"Fine!" The Emperor waved off their pleas of mercy. "Last chance! Take two legions of Bronze men! If you all fail this time around... Do not say I have no mercy for you!"

The generals quickly bowed and retreated just as quick, fearful of the Emperor changing his mind. After the Great Hall was emptied, a dark cloaked figure stepped out from the shadows and bowed, "My Emperor."

"What news of the war?" The Emperor asked as he took a sip of wine.

"It is as the generals had spoken," The cloaked figure remains kneeling. "The weapons employed by the rebels are too strange to understand and too powerful for the Imperial Army."

"We managed to obtain a few samples of their weapons," The cloaked figure gestured and two Imperial Lifeguards each holding a long wooded rectangular box walked up and lifted the lids open.

The long barreled weapons sat on a red velvet cushion and the workmanship was immediately clear to all that this was made by some god leveled craftsman. The finishes and mold seemed too perfect to be made by mortal hands.

The Emperor's eunuch took over the weapon from the Lifeguard and presented it to the Emperor who took it in both hands. He gave the weapon a heft and examined the weapon closely.

"It is called 'rifle' by the rebels," The cloaked figure said. "This is but a lesser version of what their barbarian troops are using. It is said that the rebels' barbarians carry a much powerful version. This is for their militia..."

The Emperor frowned as he continued to inspect the weapon in his hands. "With this level of workmanship... and its only fit for their lowly rabble?"

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There is the usual discussion of using a nuke to wipe the Empire out. You all have to remember one thing, who and how are they gonna to build a nuke in the first place.

Remember its a bunch of recruits n some old naval hands... who the hell the knowledge in atomic energy? And where do they get uranium? Even if they some how cobble up a dirty bomb... would you be willing to suffer the post war effects and fallout of the nuke?


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