Early in the morning of the next day...
I wake up from the chirps of birds. Looking towards Mary, she is looking at the cave with sleepy eyes. Sometimes, she nods off before she quickly shakes her head to wake up.
I guess it’s hard for such a young girl to keep watch alone for several hours. It’s really boring.
“Good morning, Mary. Anything happened?”
Mary trembles to a complete wake from my greeting. She looks at me and says.
“Nothing happened. The cave is so quiet. It’s boring.”
I guess no bandits want to wake up this early. I look over to the cave. There is no guard outside the cave.
From the observation, the guards changed every three hours until really late at night. They then closed off the cave. The cave is still closed with only a slight hole on top as a ventilation.
“Mary, you can go to sleep if you want. I will keep watch.”
“Okay. I am sleepy.”
She goes right into dreamland in just a few seconds. Looks like she is really tired. The cave shows no sign of movement until hours later.
When the cave is once again opened, the sun is halfway to the top. It should be around nine in the morning. The bandits are stretching outside the cave. Mary and I are having breakfast while watching them.
They are cleaning the bonfire outside their cave. Three of them split off the group and heading to the north. That way should be in the direction of the city. I confirm it on the map.
“Mary, I will follow those three. You keep watch here.”
I release the rope holding me to the tree and jump down the tree. I keep track of the three from afar, moving from one tree to another.
The three are chatting merrily along the way. In the middle of the way, there is a small pond with a rundown cabin. This is a bit of an open ground so I need to take a detour.
After a while, they reach the large settlement on our map. This settlement is a city with high stone walls surrounding them. There are many sentries on top of the wall.
The guard post near the gate also has some sentries. This gives off the feeling of a frontier city. Despite that feel, the city is bustling with activities. Looking inside the gate, there are many stalls around.
I climb up a tree and observe what the bandits are doing. One of them speak with the guards and go inside the city. The remaining two are waiting outside. Soon after, the first bandit comes out. They then walk along the road for a while.
Soon after they are out of the sentries’ eyes, they walk inside the forest. They are heading to a smaller settlement to the east. From the size of it, it should be a village. The settlement is about thirty minutes of walk from the city.
As soon as they arrived, they cheer among themselves. Curious, I look towards the village.
A middle aged man is currently loading stuffs onto his wagon. The man has a muscular body with a sword hanging on his waist. He looks like a retired soldiers.
Beside him is a young girl. She is putting in some of the smaller box into the wagon. The girl is wearing a cloak that cover her whole body and head. Her golden hair sometimes peeks out of the cloak.
From the look of it, the man and the girl are going to leave the village together shortly.
Seeing this scene, the bandits quickly run towards their cave. Passing through the forest while hacking their way, they energetically run to their cave. I follow them from afar.
At this moment, the HQ contacts me.
“Delta 1! This is HQ! Do you copy!?”
My ears are ringing… Can you not shout? Did you forget that every scout is using a headphone?
“HQ. This is Delta 1. What is it?”
I hear gunshots from across the radio. I wonder what situations it is that required so many gunshots over there. I tread carefully through the forest while following the bandits.
“Delta 1, you are authorized to take action on your own discretion. Continue the mission with just your team. We have to retreat to the gate. We have sent information regarding what happened to your interface. Read it. Do you copy?”
I stop where I stand when I hear the order. What has happened that forced the expedition force to withdraw and left us alone?
“I repeat. Delta 1. you are authorized to take action on your own discretion. Do. You. Copy!”
“A-ah. Yes. I mean, Affirmative.”
“Good. We will contact you again if we can. HQ out”
The radio transmission is cut off just like that. I wonder what happened but I need to get back to Mary first.
Separating from the bandits and taking a detour, I run through the forest cautiously. The suit helps me tread the forest easily and faster. In a minute, I arrive at the tree where Mary is at from behind the hill.
“Erwin, quick! Read the report!”
I press the button at the bracelet and access the report from HQ.
Two hours earlier....
“HQ, this is First Squad. We have company. Approximately half a thousand in number.”
“Where did they come from?”
“From the West. They are moving along the foot of the mountain range.”
“Fourth Squad. Do you see them?”
“No, Sir. I can’t see because of the hills but there are cloud of dust coming from there.”
“Fifth Squad and Sixth Squad, pull back to the second line of defense. The matter about the bandits will be left for later.”
“ “ Yes, Sir. ” ”
“HQ, this is Second Squad. We spotted cloud of dust from our side too.”
“First Squad, report.”
“HQ, this is First Squad. The company from the East also has approximately half a thousand in number.”
“Where did they come from? The city is in the North. There should be report from the scout if they send out armies.” The commander murmurs and ponders for a while.
“HQ, the company in the West has different flags from the company in the East. There might be a battle that is about to happen here.”
The HQ suddenly turns cold. All soldiers hold their breath. There are half a thousand troops from each side. Combined, there are a thousand in total. The expedition force only has less than fifty troops. If they want to win, they will have to use their heavy weaponry. Even then, there is no guarantee that they can win.
Earth’s policies are to refrain from using it. If they used it and destroyed their armies, we will have a hard time to establish a communication here peacefully. Reign of terror is not desirable and the cost will be too high. This also adds up to the reason as to not use heavy weaponry.
“Their scout has spotted us.”
“Ready at your station. Eight Squad, help the second platoon packed up the base. Harris, I will have you bury this box of supply here as deep as you can. Put in some weapons, preserved food, clothes, and ammo as much as possible.”
The box of supply is only as big as an ammo box. What make it special is that the storage system is also applied here. The size of storage much bigger than the storage of bracelet system. It can also be integrated to bracelet system.
The supply officers quickly sort out what to put in. After finishing it, Harris makes a hole with a depth of fifteen meters. The supply officers throw the box in and Harris closes it up to normal.
“Incoming cavalries from both sides!”
Second and Fourth Squads simultaneously shoot the ground in front of the cavalries with tracer bullets. The horses get scared at the sudden lights that drop in front of them.
Although the riders urge them to go forward, their momentum has already been broken. More and more lights fall in front of the horses. The cavalries have already lost their momentum and their charging speed is slow.
The snipers of second platoon take the chance to injure their flag bearers. One by one, their flag bearers are shot at the shoulder with tranquilizer bullets and fall of their horses. These actions alarm the riders and they quickly pull back without carrying their fallen flag bearers.
Half of the HQ’s equipment has been packed up. The Fifth and Sixth Squad has also arrived from the forest entrance.
The two armies are slowly marching to the HQ. Their foot soldiers are heavily armed. They are most likely be heavy soldier units.
“Sir, what about the scouts?”
“They won’t make it in time. They will continue on the mission. The box of supply that we buried just now is for them. Compile the information we have gathered so far and report about this situation. Take photos of those flags and send all of those things to them.”
“Are we really going to leave them?”
“We don’t have a choice. Look at this. They are too far away to reach us in time before we start to fight these armies. Hopefully they can find a place where we can open a gate safely. For now, we are counting on them.”
“Heavy troops incoming! Arrows inbound!”
“Hold them back!”
Two hundreds heavily armored soldiers with great tower shields from each side line up in a formation of twenty soldiers in each group. They march forward towards the HQ. Archers are loosing their arrows behind the protection of the heavy infantries.
The Second and Fourth are shooting at their respective direction with First and Third Squad reinforcing them.
At first, the expedition force are shooting in front of the feet of the two groups. However, this doesn’t stop or even slow down the march. The good grace is that the arrows are unable to pierce through the magic barrier on top of the squads.
Finally, they have to resort to shooting the enemy’s legs. The riflemen shoot at the approximate location of their legs behind the tower shield, only to find another surprise.
Their shields are harder than Earth’s and can even deflect the bullets. It is almost as hard as an APC armor.
“Use armor piercing rounds!”
The riflemen and heavy machine gunners quickly change their magazines. The march is slowly approaching. Earth’s force can clearly hear the sneer of ridicule from the enemy. They once again carefully aim at the lower part of the shield once again.
This time, many cries of pain resound from the approaching armies. Waves after waves of armor piercing rounds pierce through their shields and legs and their groups crumble down. Some of the heavy infantries suffer an unfortunate death.
One of the group crumbles. However, the uninjured troops quickly join with other groups and march forward together.
“The cavalry is coming back!”
From the distance the enemy cavalries start to approach again. They aim for the gap in the first line of defense of the Expedition Force. The gap is quite large because they don’t have many troops.
“First to Fourth Squad, fall back to the second line of defense. Fifth to Seventh Squad, cover them. Supply officers, get me grenade launchers and concussion grenades. Distribute them to Eighth Squad.”
The cavalries are hindered with the same tactics as before. However, the armored soldiers can now march with faster pace. At this pace, they will arrive at the first line of defense in a minute.
“Have the compiled data done?”
“A little more. It’s hard to take a photo like this.”
“Forget it and send the rest of the data to them. We don’t have much time.”
Two concussion grenades fly out to the first line of defense, one to the East and one to the West. They land on in front of the armored soldiers and explode. The concussion causes the soldiers to crumble on the spot. Half of a group fall at once and cause the other groups to hesitate.
“We are done.”
“Send them along with this video. They have to be careful of this world’s armies.”
“Alright! Get ready to throw smoke. Delta 1! This is HQ! Do you copy!?”
“A thousand soldiers?”
“There is a video about them. Want to watch it?”
“...Not right now. I don’t feel like watching it. I pray they are joking.”
“Then, what to do?” Mary warily asks.
“I don’t know. We can move as we please but… We are on our own now.”
We look at each other and heave heavy sighs. At this time, there is a commotion at the cave. The bandits are all joyfully come out and getting ready for something. At that time, I remember about the wagon from the village earlier.
“Hey, Mary. Let’s stop those bandits first. There is a wagon leaving a village earlier. Might as well save them first.”
“Yes. Let’s go. We will think about this later.”