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The New Kingdom of Mecca, City of Hensink, Protectorate Trench Line

Whistles blew hard down the line as the land before Cork was smothered in a dense cover of smoke rounds. Flashes of explosions from 155 mm heavy artillery guns continued to thunder behind the smoke cover and the men of the United Nations Army 1st Rifle Regiment charged forward towards the enemy defensive works.

Further back under the cover of earthen works, mortars and artillery guns roared in support of the attack. A mixture of white phosphorous and high explosive shells blanketed the Protectorate's defensive works, keeping its defenders pinned down. The heavy artillery barrage seemed redundant and more of a gesture as the enemy lines had already been hammered repeatedly by artillery for a better part of the night.

The heavy barrage lifted just as the men entered the smokescreen. Cork emerged from the smokescreen to find an alien landscape that brought back memories of his time as an Imperial General attacking the UN. But the scene before him was a hundred times more devasted compared to his time.

The once pristine green lands that under the Protectorate's hands had turned into ugly trenches of earth and mud with metal reinforced defensive works were all now even made into a scene of absolute destruction. The overturned brown grey ground was pockmarked with hundreds of craters amidst debris and shattered defensive works.

Mud was everywhere, made from the morning dew and blood of the dead. Cork ran forward, kept his body low as the men advanced alongside him. He reached the lip of a trench and with a countdown gesture to his men, they popped up with their weapons, ready to shoot any defenders, only to find it filled several dead.

A private coughed and puked at the side as he could not handle the gory scene. The bodies had their flesh charred and white bone could be seen as the enemy had died from the deadly effects of white phosphorus. The deadly white chemical had eaten through any exposed and unprotected flesh till the bone and through the screaming mouths, noses and lungs of any unlucky souls to be caught in the barrage.

"Move! Move!" Cork shoved the retching private away and towards the city. "Keep moving! We still got a city to take!"

The men steeled themselves as they advanced rapidly forward, stopping now and then to check and secure any intact trench or bunker. Sporadic gunfire could be heard along the attack line as unsurrendering enemies were encountered.

Cork hopped down into a half buried trench where there was an obviously raised bump of the ground that clearly was a hidden bunker. His men formed upon him without a word and they stacked up next to an entryway into the bunker. Cork gave a nod to Krew across who dug out a grenade from his pouch. Krew pulled the pin and let the spoon of the grenade to sprung out as he cooked the grenade for a second before he tossed it into the dark entryway.

A heavy chest pounding thump hammered the men and they entered the bunker. Lights mounted on their harness lit the way for them as they swept the area of enemies. The bunker was surprisingly larger than expected and deep too, as Cork found out as went down the sloping passageway while sweeping his torch left and right, the smoke and dirt kicked up from the grenade making visibly low.

As the smoke slowly cleared, his beam of light shone onto a dark red surface that seemed to occupy the entire area before him. Cork paused and stared at the surface that seemed to tower all the way up to the roof of the bunk and it also extended further then what his light beam could penetrate in the darkness.

He walked closer to investigate and realised that strange thing before him was actually inside a massive pit and the surface seemed to be made out of metal and has streak marks of rust and chipped paint.

"Sarge," One of his men called out. "There's a way down here!"

Cork frowned as he joined his men in their discovery. Another slope led down into darkness and Cork was very certain they had already gone down at least two stories. Someone asked the question that was in everyone's minds aloud. "What in the heavens is this thing?"

"I don't know..." Cork replied before he waved his light beam down the slope. "Let's go find out..."

Just as he said that sentence, a series of loud ratcheting noises seemed to erupt from the depths of the pit. Hisses and shrieks of metal followed next and the packed dirt ground beneath their feet started shaking. The roof suddenly collapsed, exposing the sky and creating shafts of light piercing down.

"OUT!" Cork yelled over the dim of noises that sounded suspiciously of heavy machinery. "GET OUT NOW!"

The men ran back towards the way they came in as quickly as they could and as they exited out of the entryway and back to the trench line, the bunker behind them finally collapsed and a large sunk hole appeared. Screams of panic echoed out amidst the sounds of heavy cranking and hissing as an entire section of the city wall seemed to protrude out from the ground.

Cork stared in stunned fascination at the massive set of skeletal pickaxe like appendage rosed over his head and stabbed down on the cratered ground behind him. The ground shook as the appendage pulled the rest of its body out, and Cork saw a massive tower like structure supported by several of the pickaxe like legs, making its way out from its hiding space.

"What in the holy heavens is that?" Krew craned his head up high, his mouth and eyes wide open like the rest of the 1st Rifle Regiment. Massive cogs and wheels could be seen turning and spinning under the 'skirt' of the tower. Tubes that looked suspiciously like cannon muzzles extended out from all over the surface of the walking tower and hissed loudly as they shot off their loads towards the UN artillery at the rear.

"Its... its... a farking giant golem!"

-----

When the word of a retreat was imminent, the Protectorate war engine, The Reckoner had hidden its self next to the city walls with its lower body and legs buried underground. The metal plating of the war engine blended itself easily with the newly armour plated city walls and the crew was careful to not expose itself by firing any weapons.

Too large and time consuming to be dismantled and loaded back onboard the Protectorate's airships, the Inquisitor General laid down a command for its crew to bid its time to cleanse the land of all the lawless that had wantonly challenged the Protectorate. The crew knew their holy deeds would earn them a place next to their God, Ramuh made their last rites and prepared to fight to the bitter end.

The massive tower like behemoth remained silent, and with the church like structure on the top, made it seemed innocuous and harmless, hence none of the UN mission planners had selected it to be hit by artillery or airstrikes. It only raised its magical barriers against any stray or random artillery shell but remained patiently waiting for its turn to unleash its Judgement upon the filth that dared raised their heretical hands against the Protectorate.

The Captain Bishop of the Reckoner, seeing the Protectorate Fleet falling off the skies and the Flagship Aggression was most likely lost too, called upon his men to perform their final sacred duty against the lawless. He knew the lawless would attack now that the Protectorate Fleet has fallen and sure enough, at the crack of dawn, a heavy artillery barrage that made him and his crew feel like Ramuh himself has come to this land to deliver His Judgement swept through the city's defences.

Thankfully, the Reckoner has ample reserves of magic crystals, allowing it to withstand the explosions seemed to be the work of an angry god. Tiny figures and boxy wagons came out from the screen of white smoke and the Reckoner commander knew it was time. He ordered all the boilers to make full steam and all weapons to be ready.

He timed it just as the tiny figures of the heretical lawless troops crossed the defensive line and reached the walls, ordering the Reckoner to emerge out from its hiding space and towards the rear of the enemy lines where those heretical weapons that caused so much destruction were sited.

Once those cannons were silenced, the lawless troops would be easier to be dealt with! Thought the Captain Bishop of the Reckoner. He stood with his feet apart and his hands clasped behind his back, staring out of the crystal windows of the command temple."Full speed ahead!"

The massive war engine lumbered across the devastated landscape, its magical barrier flickering as the lawless's heretical weapons hammered it. The Captain Bishop eyed the enemy guns at the rear that sat so enticing and exposed but yet so far that his own steam cannons were still out of range.

"Faster!" He urged his people, despite knowing that the Reckoner was already moving at its fastest speed. The Reckoner shook wildly as the enemy's cannons fired at it, making its magical shields flicker and shimmer. Finally, the Reckoner cannons were in range and the Captain Bishop yelled with glee. "ALL STEAM CANNONS... FIRE!"

The view before him vanished briefly as dozens of steam cannons spat out their loads towards the rear of the enemy line, the warm front creating wisps of white clouds in the air. The Captain Bishop raised his hand out and yelled as a ripple of thunder of echoed, "JUDGEMENT HAS COME!"

-----

The New Kingdom of Mecca, Hensink, United Nation Fire Base Delta

Private Gouda was having the best time of his life of twenty two summers. Once a ballista crew, he always had the fascination about siege weapons. When word came of the forming and recruitment of the Army. He quickly signed up and when asked what was his choice of service which he said he wanted to be a ballista crew member.

The recruiter had smiled and asked him why and after getting to know his interests, the recruiter recommended him to join the artillery unit instead. And there his life changed totally once he was introduced to the world of big guns and big booms.

In the end. he managed to get into the UN Army and was even assigned to the artillery company where he serviced the massive Haven Armament Works H100 155 mm 'Thunderer' howitzer which he recalled his trainers saying that artillery was the king of the battlefield and it showed!

The massive artillery and unlike a rifle, which Gouda scorned at, was capable of reaching distances that no rifle could ever achieve and the H100 Thunderer he was part of had been roaring for over twelve hours! It was beautiful, watching the red hot trail of the shell spiralling into the night skies before detonating hundreds of meters away with a burst of flames and sparks like fireworks.

"INCOMING!" Gouda was bending over a case of 155 mm shell when someone suddenly yelled out in alarm. He froze briefly as he stared up into the skies, wondering what was coming when his sergeant dragged him into a dugout. "GET DOWN!"

The ground suddenly shook wildly as a series of thunderous claps hammered Gouda inside the cover of the shelter. His ears rang loudly and the air was filled with smoke. The sergeant that saved him was yelling something which he could barely hear. "Out! Out! Man your guns!"

Finally, his hearing came back, and he crawled out of the pit and saw in the far distance a massive tower with several legs making its way towards him spewing smoke. "What in the heavens?"

"Oh... you son of a bitch... you wanna play with cannons? I show you who has the bigger cannon!"

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