Dawn. It’s time. The 1st battalion of drones from each regiment, division, and army lined up in formation behind the gate of the Pass of Elethien. They were the best of the best, intended to block the spearhead of attack from the attacking forces. The Mutsalins sent by Rithul were intercepted, but they all committed suicide before the scout drones were able to bring them back to the Achien base camp. The 4th Army from further north were already crossing the mountains, intended to catch the enemy by surprise from behind. The combined armies of the 1st and 4th now numbered almost 700,000, with the reserves in Achien numbered about 100,000. Nasition has personally come to lead this battle, and he looks on from his vantage point, preparing for the inevitable.
All the Achien high command knows the battle is situated in a mountain pass, but to call it a “pass” is an understatement. The Pass of Elethien is the largest gap in the Irrenl Mountains, and also, it’s the closest pass to Achien. The loss of the pass could potentially mean another crisis since the death of Stasibel. Knowing the topography of the area could mean victory, and lack of it, certain defeat.
Already occupying all vantage points in the area, the lightly armed drones now took their positions on the perimeter of the battle, waiting for the signal to fire. The 2nd Elite Airborne Division of Achien now took off, a little hiss marking their departure. Spies in Rithul and Efla have revealed vital troop positions and intelligence to the Achien army’s disposal. Unbeknownst to the attackers, a slaughter was about to take place at the Battle of the Pass.
The attackers split into five divisions. The center was made up of the heavily armed troops, including heavy infantry and armor divisions. This division had the most soldiers, with around 200,000. Behind to the center were two bombardment divisions to take down the mighty gate for them to advance. The final two divisions were a combination of mobile forces and elite forces, dedicated to exploiting any gaps the first three divisions made. Their tactic seemed simple, but it required a key element of coordination: to attack until the enemy forces behind the gate decide to charge out. When they charge out, the center spreads out and retreats, and the mobile divisions cause havoc by surrounding the enemy counterattack forces. That was the plan issued out from the combined high command of Rithul and Efla.
“Our flank isn’t guarded,” Kavlina complained.
“The mobile divisions will take care of it, and by the time we ram a gap in the enemy lines, the flank would be surrounded anyways,” the leader of Efla, Pravl, replied.
“We still don’t have any reports from the Mutsalins yet,” Avalel reported, “Can my battalion scout out the enemy to bring intelligence?”
“I trust my Mutsalins,” the President of Rithul snapped, “We cannot afford to dispatch anyone with a risk of quick annihilation.”
“But this attack is suicidal without enough intelligence! There will be many casualties!”
“If we win, then Achien is within our reach. No matter the cost, we must take down this wretched government of Nasition.”
“Silence!” Pravl shouted, “The plan is already carried out. As our future monarch, Avalel, we need you and your battalion to be in the mobile division. We have already made the armor needed for you and your friend and your confiscated weapons are in a crate nearby. Now go, and bring glory to your country!”
As Avalel and Kavlina put on their armor, they realized this “armor” is nothing compared to the standard Achien military armor. The chest plate was just two pieces of plating stuck together and coated with an energy-absorbing glaze, while the armor leggings only covered the calves, exposing the rest of the leg to injury. The helmet though, offered minimal protection and a small cover to offer an analysis of the surroundings, while the boots gave the wearer faster speeds and could hover a little off the ground. While Kavlina moaned about the boots having not enough strength to carry her knives while hovering, Avalel felt the Anapadeia had no effect on the efficiency of the boots whatsoever. The boots were hovering as if no weapon was being wielded by Avalel.
A soldier rushed up to Avalel and Kavlina. “Would you two like any weapons or extra armor? Our superiors said any weapon in our arsenal is fine.”
“Since my daggers and knives are useless in these useless boots, could I have a pair of gauntlets with retractable short swords?” Kavlina asked.
“I just need a better, lighter chest plate. Is it possible?” Avalel asked.
“I’ll see what I can do,” the soldier replied, and hurried off into the distance.
A while later, the soldier returned with the chest plate and gauntlets. The chest plate was much lighter, and there was much more maneuverability in it, but at the cost of protection. The plating was much thinner, and there was no glaze. The gauntlets covered from elbow to wrist and had the retractable short swords, but they were blunt. Kavlina quickly grabbed one of her knives and began sharpening it.
Soon, all the divisions are ready. The high command issued a signal in each soldier’s helmet, and they all began to march. Because of the lack of combined training of the two rebel nations, they advanced slowly, and soon met their first obstacle - Achien bombardment.
Raining from the sky, the scatter bombs from the 2nd Elite Airborne Division landed at their designated spots. Explosions erupted everywhere, and immediately, the heavy infantry began to lose formation, even though it was the artillery divisions that suffered the most. The defenders above the gate began rapidly opening fire, mowing the attackers down. The bodies of dead soldiers began piling up, and the surviving hid behind the pile, only to be added into the pile by the bombing. Still, the sheer numbers of the attackers reached the gate, and slowly, they began creating a hole in the first line of Achien defenses. The signal came for the mobile divisions to support the heavy division, and Avalel and Kavlina led their battalions into battle.
The gates swung open. The entire 1st army of Achien poured out of the gates, and blasts began erupting from the perimeter of the battle. This was Nasition’s plan all along. At the last night, the elites gathered to the sides, and the weakest were gathered in the center. When the attackers punched a hole in the center, they waited until the entire army was in the Pass, and the gates swung open. The fresh and eager troops of the 1st army launched wave after wave through the gates amidst the blasts from all sides. All bombs dropped, the 2nd Elite Airborne Division retreated to refuel while the 5th and 6th Airborne Division began their hail of blasts from their newly developed Type-2 rapid-fire guns. Some also dropped smoke bombs, which obscured the attackers’ view, and at that precise moment, the 4th army has come.
A laser shot from the sky down to the ground. An explosion in the distance. Then the sudden static from the sound retrievers in the troops’ ears. The base camp was destroyed. The Achien navy has joined in the fight. One of the satellite bases opened fire and shot their satellite cannon straight to the surface, killing all in the base camp. The attackers now have no leader, and they have no retreat. Avalel desperately tried to rally the troops and his battalion but found there was no one to answer him. He saw Kavlina a short distance away, decapitating the drones that came her way, and his battalion, desperately holding their lines against the hordes of drones. The Anapadeia split into ten blades and sped towards the enemy drones. In a few seconds, hundreds of the enemy are cut down, the blades traveling and piercing right through the armor. Soon, instinctively, the remainder of the Rithul-Efla armies formed a ring, fighting till the last breath against the endless waves of the Achien army and constant hail of blasts. The former 500,000 strong army is now less than 400,000, and the ring is rapidly shrinking. Meanwhile, the 700,000 strong army of Achien has only lost 20,000, the odds clearly in their favor.
“You can fight bravely,” the voice of Nasition boomed through one of the speakers from a fighter plane, “but you will tire soon, and my mechanical forces will still endlessly punch and beat you until you buckle.”
Kavlina, being at the front lines, constantly fought, but she realized she was tiring when the drones doesn’t seem to be losing any strength. Well, they’re drones, she thought. She estimated she had already cut down at least 100 of these drones. However, she saw her line buckle and rushed to rescue it. Too late. She was surrounded on her own. Rapidly spinning herself, the blades mowed down another dozen or so of the enemy, but when she paused, she saw a blast coming at her. She tried to dodge, but the blast still hit her waist, causing a cry of agony. The blast punched her armor hard, and she lost balance, falling on the ground. A burning hole sizzling in her armor, she helplessly clutched her waist as a foot of a drone raised up and blocked the Elyfesta from her sight.
A shower of blood spurted out. The heavy foot slammed right onto Kavlina’s chest, and blood escaped out of her mouth along with the air knocked out. She crawled up and gasped, only to have another foot cruelly crush her left heel, twisting her foot to unimaginable pain and occasional cracking sounds emulating from the wound. She crazily swung her blade and cut down the drone. Now her leg had nothing crushing it, but she was now lame and basically, one of the casualties.
The Elyfesta dipped below the horizon as dusk now took to the battlefield. The exhausted rebel troops attempted to hold their lines, but they were suffering heavy casualties. Avalel looked helplessly at the charging enemy and swung his Anapadeia wildly, cutting another few of the drones in half. His left shoulder had been shot, and now his left arm hung numbly. He knew if the battle continued on, eventually, all 500,000 of the rebels will be killed. He, like so many others, was told to win this battle at all costs, but it seemed victory was impossible, and with this chaos, all the resistance of Rithul and Efla would soon be vanquished. He looked to what was the army’s flank, now blocked by the enemy. He suddenly felt a flame burning in his chest, urging him to destroy the entire enemy force behind him. A flash blinded his eyes for a moment, and he found him suddenly at the flank.
Against his will, he found himself crying, “Reinforcements will come soon! Focus on the enemy behind us and retreat to regroup for tomorrow! We can’t let ourselves die before the reinforcements come! For the sake of yourself, come charge to the enemies! I will lead the way!” He charged, raising the Anapadeia up high. He slammed the blade towards the ground, as he had trained himself to do to utilize the power of the Anapadeia.
A thud. Suddenly, a great wave of energy shot out from the Anapadeia, vaporizing the first lines of drones. Spreading, the energy wave traveled through every drone, the dust and stone from the ground raised up because of it. The drones froze and rapidly toppled over. When the energy wave stopped, a huge expanse of melted metal parts lay before the rebels’ eyes, and with it, a path to retreat. The ground was flattened and was sizzling, burning from the blast. The remaining drones stood, shocked at the sudden turn of events. The rebels, knowing that a path has just been opened to them, began sprinting away from the gate.
Avalel found himself charging towards the remaining drones with a speed that his boots would never have pushed him to. The blasts from the fighters above were quickly deflected by the Anapadeia. He instinctively thrust the Anapadeia into each drone, puncturing their armor. Rapidly dashing from one to the next, a trail of light was all anyone can see, zigzagging through the now rugged and disordered lines of the enemy.
The exhausted rebels were overjoyed. Before, they had doubted the sincerity of Avalel and simply allowed him to be in their ranks because of their leaders, but now, he had proven his loyalty and most importantly, his potential. The rebels had once despised King Stasibel. Now, they were willing to follow the command of his son.
“Charge!” one cried as everyone suddenly felt a surge of energy and morale. The drones attempted to hold their formations but were quickly cut down from the ferocity and strength of the rebel army. The drones at the gate now also charged to help their comrades but were slowed by several thousand rebels. Those rebels decided that for the sake of their own comrades, they will sacrifice themselves in order for the retreat to be successful. They raised their shields as the drones now hammered against their lines.
Suddenly, the drones paused. The gates swung open again, and the 1st army poured back into the gates as suddenly as they had appeared. The fighters above now still fired a few rounds, but soon swirled around and retreated. The decimated 4th army now scattered, and every drone rushed to nearby cover and disappeared in the bushes. The confused rebels looked around them. Piles upon piles of drones and rebels alike littered the pass. The ground was now stained with blood and melted metal, a blackish-red reflecting the dimming light in the horizon. Then they celebrated, cheering for their “victory” and the Achien retreat. However, Avalel realized one of his close companions was missing in the ranks: Kavlina.
Avalel looked on the scene. “Every single one that fell are brave warriors, and we must respect them, whether in life or death,” he called to the rebels, “Some are still wounded out there. I need every single one of us to pick up any rebel lying there. The living, we’ll transport to the nearest hospital, the dead...” he choked back tears and solemnly announced, “we’ll pay our last respects by burning them at a pyre.”