"Mortars, coming down!" The COMM line cackled as explosive ordnance crashed down onto the Army adjacent to Arnus Hill. "Good effect on target!" Baird ignored most of the chatter coming through as he and Delta-One made their way across the plains that separated them and the enemy force.

The Gears that had traveled through the Gate last night had been under nonstop battle with the enemy forces for the past forty-eight hours. The Centaur Tanks and Mortars had been raking in kills by the dozens with every shot, while none of the infantry had to even aim to score a hit. It was such a one-sided slaughter that it was nowhere near funny, and it was only becoming even more absurd as their flying lizards, which had been designated as 'Dragons', tried to burn the Gears with its ability to breath fire. Vulcan gunner positions were set up to deal with them, and King Ravens maintained air superiority throughout the battle.

"Get those weapons up!" Baird yelled, watching as his fellow Gears lit up the area in front of them with weapons fire. Entrenched deep at the base of the hill with sandbags and foxholes, the Gears had been dealing with the numerous footmen that had somehow got past the shells blowing them up to bits.

Most of the Gears were out of their depth, as ever since the Locust War began, large scale warfare in this sense was unheard of. Likewise, fighting out in the open and in the plains like this was virtually unheard of, and the transition from urban warfare to the frugal countryside had been a jarring experience for them, especially the former Stranded in the group. Baird felt that he and the rest of Delta-One were the oddest ones out.

The team had gotten extremely used to operating as a single Commando team of four, and favored splitting up to teams of two that would cover each others backs as they proceeded through war-torn urban sections. Baird had only experienced war like this during the Pendulum Wars, and the novelty of their enemies being completely inept and unable to fight back properly made the new experience of fighting with a hundred other people around him and fighting in open plains just that much more harder to get used to. Sometimes being too easy didn't make it comfortable.

"Mortars!" Baird reflexively covered his ears as more explosions riddled the battlefield, the panic screams of the primitives and their horror spread across the place as their bodies were flung in every direction. There was a problem though, the enemy had gotten too close to their lines, and anymore mortar firing could lead to Gears being killed by their own guns.

"This is Delta-One to Control! Cease fire! Cease fire! You are Danger Close! Stop with the fucking fireworks!" Baird didn't wait for a reply as Imperial soldiers had reached the sandbags and started flailing their swords to try and cut through the heavily armored Gears that were defending the position. In true Gear fashion, most of them dropped their weapons and met the Imperial soldiers with the chainsaw bayonets revving.

Baird did the same meeting an Imperial soldier that had managed to push up towards him with his shield and sword in hand. Baird noticed how his eyes widened in some sort of fear as he pulled up his roaring chainsaw bayonet, and Baird's already low opinion on these primitive parasites dropped lower as he snarled. He brought his chainsaw down, which the soldier tried to block with his shield, but ended losing his arm as the chainsaw cleaved through the armor and tore up the flesh underneath. In a display of fortitude, the Imperial soldier pulled back and flung his sword hand towards Baird, managing to get a good strike on his chest plate.

Sparks flew where the blade met his armor, and no damage was dealt this his person proper. Baird flipped his gun in his hands, and cleaved the Imperial soldier in half. Blood and bits of gore spilled out from the dead soldier, and Baird twisted back around to meet the next soldier that tried to attack him.

Cole was close by, and like all the other Gears, he was a full head taller than all of them, with arms even thicker. It felt like fighting the Stranded all over again, and Cole chortled as the Imperial soldiers tried to cleave through his armor with their swords. Two of such swords snapped when they came into contact of his armor, while another left behind only sparks. Cole punched the head of an Imperial, caving the skull in and tossing the dead body at the Imperial to his right. The one to his left tried to stab Cole in the back with a dagger, which dinged off his armor plates, and Cole slammed an elbow into his gut, forcing the soldier to the ground and gasping for breath. He clutched his chest, and Cole was surprised to see him coughing up blood. These guys must have been really soft.

Cole pulled out his Lancer and shot him in the head, while cleaving the next one in half. He reloaded his weapon, slipping the magazine in as the next wave of Imperial soldiers reached the sandbags."Come on baby! Come get a piece of the Cole Train!" He yelled and ran off to meet the them. He bulldozed past a dozen of them, cracking bones and trampling them beneath his feet, and revved up his Chainsaw to meet the next wave.

"These guys don't fucking quit!" Clayton said, sounding breathless as he crushed the skull of an Imperial under his foot. "What's our casualties? DId we lose anyone?"

"Do you see any Gear bodies on the ground?" Sam asked rhetorically as she pumped her Gnasher shotgun. An Imperial had his chest blown open by the powerful CQC weapon, a fine red mist appearing right in front of him as he flopped to the ground dead.

"God! This isn't even a battle anymore!" Clayton yelled, and continued to bring the enemy down to the ground with his brutal and feral way of fighting. Baird lamented the fighting, knowing that a few of his fellow Gears were horrified in the one-sided massacre, and would probably need some attention with a psychiatrist for a while. This wasn't a war anymore, it was just wailing on the little stick with HE rounds.

But the Gears had their orders; and after all, they attacked first.

0oo A Tomorrow For Us oo0

Midnight. Enemy forces had begun to start creeping towards the hillside of Arnus Hill as the sun set. As far as the Gears were concerned, they were members of the backup group that had not participated in the original battle for Arnus Hill. Jace and his eight-man team of Gears crept slowly towards the enemy forces. keeping themselves hidden inside the multitude of tall grass that surrounded the hill.

Some of the veteran Pesang commandos and shock troopers discussed their sense of nostalgia to the members who had never been a part of the Pendulum Wars, stating that commando work like this was common in UIR controlled territory. No matter what though, the Gears favored heavy infantry based tactics, and while they had the assets, Jace was slightly annoyed how the higher ups didn't utilise the King Ravens and artillery as much as they should have.

In truth though, caused by the Gears over-dependence on infantry based warfare, the King Ravens were not part of a separate Air-Force. Rather they were under the command and control of Ground Commanders, which resulted in a difficult time requisitioning more fuel and ammunition for their use. To add to this the artilleries had used up a sizeable amount of their ordnance in the day, and since Sera was still rebuilding- with their infrastructure in shambles -Bernie thought it would be prudent to conserve ammunition.

Besides Jace's thoughts though, most of the Gears hadn't minded it. In the end of the day, the COG Army was Infantry and only Infantry, and that trend carried over into the USG as well.

When the enemy Army passed the first line of the Gears defences, Dizzy clicked the detonator to reduce the middle portion of the army to dust and smithereens. A wall of fire separated the front half with the back half, and while the enemy panicked at the sudden fire, the Pesang commandos and shock troopers pulled out their machete's and began to take down the the Imperial soldiers at the back of the army one by one.

While that was happening, Alpha-Two, Alpha-Three, and Alpha-Four rose to a standing position and opened fire. Their weapons barked in the moonless night, illuminating their surrounding with bright flashes of gold and red, and blinding the Imperial soldiers who tried to reorganize themselves into a phalanx. Jace lined up his shot with an important looking Knight type sitting on a horse, and fired his weapon.

The horse rose into the air as its gut was ripped apart by the bullet, and the knight was tossed into the ground roughly. "Priority target! The red armored old fucker at the front! Cover me!" Jace crouched low and crab-walked towards his mark, while Dizzy and the rest of Alpha-Two lit up the area above his head with weapons fire. Imperial soldiers that tried to save their CO were systematically gunned down or injured before they could reach him, and Jace was slightly disturbed at how they literally threw themselves into the bullets, trying to increase their chances by simply sending as many bodies as possible. It didn't work, and it left a bad taste in Jace's mouth.

Jace reached the prone form of the knight and as he prepared himself to drag him back towards the Gear lines for safety, the knight's eyes snapped open and before Jace knew it an arrow was pierced in his right shoulder, the metal edge digging deep into his flesh and scraping his bones.

"Agh!" Jace yelled in pain. "Get off me!"

:"I will not die without taking a pint of your blood with me!"

"Jace!" Dizzy yelled. He fired and caught the knight by his left arm, causing the elbow to explode and effectively amputating him. The knight spun from the force of the hit, and managed to break the arrow inside Jace's shoulder. "Gah! Agh!" Jace, angered by the arrow in his shoulder, knocked the knight out with the butt of his rifle and grabbed his ankle to none too gently drag him back to Alpha-Two.

The Gears surrounded Jace, defending their squad leader, and mowed down ten dozen Imperials as they did. It was after an entire hour of nonstop shooting, at which point four Gears had ran completely dry of ammo, that they had finished off the last of the Imperial Army that hadn't retreated.

The Gears returned back to Arnus Hill, with a hundred prisoners and several thousand dead Imperial bodies left behind.

0oo A Tomorrow For Us oo0

Bernadette Mataki was frowning as she read through the reports sent in from her Gear teams. After the battle of Arnus Hill, she had dispatched more than a dozen squads to scour through the battlefield looking for anything worth any value. The only thing they managed were several pristine swords and other random things.

The Pesang Commandos had skinned and taken the various scales and such from the dead animals that the Imperials used, saying that they could become useful eventually. Bernie agreed, only because of her own background, and prepared a proper storage area for it in the base,

The prisoners that they had captured had been placed in temporary holding cells, and were provided with the necessary amount of food, water, and comfort to maintain the USG humanitarian stance. Like how Marcus Fenix had taught his generation of Commandos, so too did Bernadette not advocate torture and ill-treatment of prisoners. War crimes that the COG and the UIR committed in Ramascu and Learan would not be repeated again.

"You wanted to see me, Ma'am?" Baird, the little shit, walked into the room with his Lancer on his back. Bernie noted how the chainsaw was still bloody and frowned.

"Had fun Baird?" She asked, indicating his bloodied weapon. Baird shrugged his shoulders, not giving her much of an answer while still remaining to be a little shit with a sardonic smile on his face.

"Can't say I am having much fun. The toga rejects aren't as mean as Grubs, no bark or bite to them. Almost makes me wish that we were back to fighting them," he stated. Bernie kept her face incredibly neutral, which was evidence to her long sets of patience with men like Baird. "What did you want to see me for? Because, you know, I'm a busy person and I can't waste my time just to talk shop with an old hag."

Bernie refused to give him the satisfaction of a reaction and merely slipped a piece of paper towards him. "Congratulations, you've been promoted to Lieutenant," Bernie said, relishing the shocked look on Baird's face. "And you're being taken off the active duty roster. You'll be sitting behind a desk." Now he began spluttering in shock and defiance.

"Wh-You can't do that to me! I need to be in the frontlines!" He argued. "You give the past few dicks I've met promotions and when I don't want one you start handing it out like dead rats on a stick?! Frankly speaking, that's bullshit!"

"Baird!" Bernie snapped, "I know that you don't like it but suck it up! Right now, we have an abundance of Gears and not enough Officers. WIth the openness of this area, we can't rely on small Commando based tactics as much anymore. Ground supports and a minimum of eight-manned teams are being regulated for any extended missions outside the premises of Arnus Hill. Thus, a lot of the NCOs we currently have heading the various Gear teams have now become redundant. Like you!"

"So you're tossing me aside?!" Baird said in anger, "I have the right to petition for a tribunal and sue you for unjustly laying me off!"

"You're still getting paid!"

"But you're putting me behind a desk!" Baird accused.

"Yes, I am! And you're not changing my decision!" Bernie stated, "Beside Anya, you're the only who can do the job with any modicum of actual decent results!"

"I -wait what?" He asked, now interested in his new assignment since it was being compared to Anya's role. Bernie grunted, pleased that he had stopped whining, and continued to elaborate.

"You'll be acting as an intelligence officer- a job that's been left dry for too long -and you'll be tasked with gathering information and discussing about the possible resource values that the area contains," Bernie stated.

Baird frowned, and it didn't take him long to catch on, "You want a replacement to Imulsion?" He replied. Bernie nodded her head, sighing as the two of them now understood the secondary and prevalent reason why they had passed through the Gate.

"While we are indeed here to start peaceful negotiations, we also have our own energy crisis to worry about. There was a reason why we used Imulsion to begin with, and it's because Sera has no other means of an energy source that could conveniently last in the long term," Bernie said, "We need to find that resource here."

"And what? Start another Pendulum War?" Baird replied, his mouth set into a grim line. Bernie sighed, shaking her head as she massaged her temples.

"If I have anything to say about it, then no. I've seen too many good Gears die already," she said tiredly.

"Nobody here can really give us much of a fight; we can take them down easily. Steamroll right through them," Baird interjected.

Bernie shook her head. "Maybe, but we haven't seen everything that they have to give yet. Where there's a will, there's a way. We don't have any cards on the tables, hell, we don't even know if we're playing poker or blackjack! There are too many unknowns, and we don't have nearly enough contingencies for me to feel good about it." She glanced at her table and sighed, "And I don't feel like becoming genocidal just yet."

Baird frowned, but nodded his head. "Alright, I'll do it."

"You'll still have Delta-One at your disposal," Bernie said, "Cole has been promoted to Sergeant, and they'll receive a new recruit soon. Any maps and local knowledge our Recon-Teams can get from nearby villages and locals, we'll relay to you and you can use Delta-One on missions to find an alternative fuel source and anything else of value. Understood?"

"Yes, Ma'am," Baird muttered and turned around to leave, not bothering with a salute. Bernie watched him go, and downed her cup of coffee in one gulp.

0oo A Tomorrow For Us oo0

"Alpha-One through Six!" Major Nadi said as he read through the list, "All of you will be reassigned to Recon's-One to Six. From this point on, your objective is the reconnaissance and exploration of the local area. King Ravens have done a sweep of the area in a six mile radius from Arnus Hill, and have located several different villages and settlements, mapped out and designated for each squad to investigate. Your duty is to establish friendly relations, and to see if you can't open up trade for commodities between us and them. Standard Hearts and Minds play. We've all gone through Operation Lifeboat, dealt with the Stranded. Your squads were picked specifically for having Stranded among them as well," he said.

Jace nodded his head as the various Gears in the room murmured with each other. Alpha-Two had at least two former Stranded-turned Gears in their ranks, and they'd be good in beginning conversation with the locals. "Furthermore, each of your drones have the local language downloaded into their hard-drives, and can translate between you and the civilians. However, each of you are expected to attend at least 5 hours of Language Class to learn the language of this Region. Understood?"

"Yes, Sir!" The Gears chorused.

"Also, standard ROE for any meetings with Imperial personnel will be 'Fire only When Fired Upon'. We are not officially at war with them, and with the casualties, or lack thereof, the past few engagements have been filed under border disputes. Not enough to get a war started, and mind you, we're not looking to start a war."

"Yes, Sir!" Another chorus of agreements. Major Nadi nodded and swept his arm over the various vehicles next to him.

"Each of you will be provided with one Cargo Truck and two Armadillos, with a standard set of weapons. The Armadillos have been set up with enough ammunition and supplies to last you a month out in the field. A Vulcan Gat Gun has been provided for use and can be attached to the top of the Cargo Truck. That's it, I have nothing more to tell you guys. Dismissed."

The assorted Gear teams rose and saluted the Major, who returned it easily and then left the area. Seeing him gone, Jace turned to Corporal Yash, who was his 2IC after his promotion to Sergeant. "You heard that Yash?"

"Yea, you want to head out now?" The Pesang Shock Trooper asked, raising an eyebrow at Jace. The newly minted Sergeant couldn't help but grin and nodded, gesturing towards the Armadillos.

"Come on man, the skies is bluer than at the South Islands, and the grass is greener than on Tyran. Don't tell me you don't want to be the first one out there?" Yash laughed and shook his head.

"Everyone is raring to go, boss man," Yash said, indicating the rest of the Gears. "Everybody wants to see what this new world is like. Either way, if you want to go or not, that's up to you. Tell me to go left, I'll go left, it's as simple as that."

"That just makes things harder on me though," Jace commented.

"I'm not here to hold your hand, boss man."

"Fine then, what's our first village to hit?" Jace asked as he gestured for the rest of the squad to form up at the vehicles. Alpha-Two did as instructed, and Dizzy tipped his hat at Jace as he moved towards a secluded corner in the hangar bay, where a COMM station was set up so that he could speak to his girls.

"Some place in the outskirts. Scouts were able to find out the name as Coda Village."

"Alright then, let's go on with it!" Jace muttered, rubbing his sore shoulder as he hopped into the Armadillo.