Sherene stood before the opened windows of her office, allowing the cold wind to blow in. The temperature has risen over the past few days as winter slowly came to an end. She returned to her seat before her desk and looked at the neat stack of perfectly cut and pure white parchment, no, paper, she corrected herself.

Printed on the smooth paper, were neatly arranged characters in both Common and English. It was a census on the number of people living currently in the city, with their ID numbers listed as well, allowing her to search for more detailed information if she keyed the ID number in the computer on her desk.

Captain Blake placed her in charge of running the City hall, and all civic matters. She has a few hooman advisors and her own people that occupied other offices in the same building which help her manage the civic affairs if the city.

Now that spring is almost here, she has to manage workers to tilt the land for farming and animal rearing, roads to be built and maintained, schools to be built, land to be surveyed and mines to be built.

The incident a few days ago which alarmed all the hoomans were strangely brushed off when she asked Blake and Ford. Both of them told her not to worry and just focus on running the city instead. She didn't press the issue, knowing Blake will tell her when the time comes. And yesterday, Blake told her to use the colored 'credit' chips as currency for the city instead of using gold, silver and copper coinage.

Blake told her that the citizens can use gold, silver, or copper and exchange with credit chips in equivalent value. He wants her to implement all of the community supply stores to only accept credit chips instead of hard coinage by end of spring.

Sherene understood that since they do not have a source of gold and silver mines, creating their own type of currency and enforced by the City hall to be accepted only in the shops, will help to cement its value to the people.

Also, the chips themselves were very durable and lightweight compared to the heavy coins. Blake told her to start up a national bank which will guarantee the value of the credit chips with hard gold. He hopes that people will deposit or exchange their precious metal for the chips in the bank rather than hold onto them in their homes.

Sherene placed a piece of blank paper and smoothed it carefully on the table and picked up a pen which the hoomans called a ballpoint pen. The first time she used it, she fell in love with it.

The ease of writing with the ballpoint pen was addicting, compared to the cumbersome quill feathers and ink she was used to before. Blake told her that these pens are cheap and easy to produce, making her shocked, as a set of quill feathers and a bottle of ink could cost up to 10 gold pieces! That is almost half a year salary for a regular craftsman!

And not the mention the wondrous lamps that provide light brighter than candles at any time and it doesn't produce any bad smell! Even after attending the classes given by the hoomans, she still thought of the lamps as magical.

She spent the whole morning working out the details on the tasks to be done during the spring season. Finally, her tummy growled and she looked at the hooman clock invention hanging on the wall, finding it time for the midday meal.

She left the City Hall and wandered to a nearby eatery opened by a former inn owner. "Welcome! Oh, it's the Princess!" She was greeted cheerfully by the owner's daughter cum waitress as she slid the wooden doors open.

"Here, have a seat!" She was offered her usual seat next to the windows of clear glass. "The usual?"

Sherene smiled and nodded, "Yes, please! An extra egg too! And a plate of fries!" She gave her order to the waitress.

The tiny store started to get crowded as the lunch crowd started to come in. The people who came into the store for lunch wasn't surprised to see the Princess sitting there, as she regularly had lunch there, they greeted her with a smile and gossiped with her on trivial matters, making her laugh.

Her food came, a bowl of wyvern broth slime ramen with slices of pan-fried wyvern meat, topped off with a large gooey wyvern egg and garnished with green onion herbs and fragrant spicy oil, this recipe was introduced by the hoomans, much to the delight of the elves' taste buds. They normally just harvested the slime's core for its magical properties and never thought that it could be a delicacy. With the introduction of slime as a food ingredient, a booming industry in rearing slimes for food had started up.

Following that came a plate of golden fried thick cut fries sprinkled with sea salt, also courtesy of the hoomans. Potatoes grown from the farms was a new staple food introduced by the hoomans to the elves, the carbohydrate-rich and filling super starch, was extremely popular either deep fried or baked and served with butter, sour cream and bacon bits!

The waitress who placed the large serving of steaming hot fries also included a small dish of red tomato sauce on the side, making Sherene's mouth water. A condiment from the hoomans, 'kat-chup' was made from mashing the red fruit and cooked with salt, sugar, vinegar and other herbs together. It tasted tangy, sweet and sour, making it ideal for dipping fries.

Lately, she felt she had gained weight ever since she started working at the City Hall. The hoomans are scary, not only are their weapons deadly, even their food is deadly too! Thought Sherene as she dug into her bowl of slurpy ramen with relish.

The eatery was soon filled with sounds of laughter and cutlery as the people enjoyed their mid-day meal, blissfully unaware of the coming of a darker storm.


Sawtooth Pass

The Marine garrison had been reinforced with most of the new recruits. A few of the more promising recruits were sent to Basic Leadership Course before heading to the Advanced Leadership Course.

Teams of Marines in fatigues dragged sharpened logs and bound them together into barricades, with the sharp pointy ends facing away from the gates. The crater from the missile strike was filled in, to prevent the enemy from using the crater as cover. The roads were cleared of any form of cover that could be used, while barricades were hammered into the hard rocky terrain, forming a maze-like passage.

Engineering had come by earlier and deposited two modified laser point defense turrets, stripped from the ship. The fully armored enclosure turrets were upgraded and enlarged, enabling a crew of up to four to comfortably operate the weapon system manually.

A simple track was installed between the recycled laser projector coils, with a roller carriage attached to it while the laser emitters and focusing lenses were removed. By powering the coils in sequence using electricity, the magnetic coils will be able to propel the carriage at high speeds, similar to the Flight Bay EM launchers.

A cylinder cardboard filled with hundreds of lead pellets can be loaded onto the carriage, like a giant shotgun shell, and when propelled out at high speeds, the dense pellets will burst out of the lighter cardboard container like grapeshot. Another specialty ammunition available was a discarding sabot round, using a steel penetrator instead of other denser materials. It was designed for use against heavy armored creatures like dragons. The ready ammunition lockers in the turret are capable of holding 42 Grapeshot shells and 12 Anti Dragon Sabot shots.

To assist in targeting, a crude rangefinder and camera were installed, protected by two-inch thick armored glass, connected to a display and fire control system inside the turret. Air pumps connected to pipes were also installed in the turret to ventilate the air inside.

To further protect the turrets from offensive magic, a layer of silica ceramics was coated over the outer armor of the turret, which can be heated up to 1204 Degree Celsius and a lightning rod was installed to protect against lightning attacks.

Simple hydraulics replaced the electric servo motors that rotate the turret, azimuth, and elevation of the gun. Power cables were planted into the floors and protected by layers of concrete to prevent disruption of power to the guns.

With two of the railguns covering the approaches to the Pass, they effectively could throw a spread of grapeshot at any enemy that approaches within 400 meters and fire an anti-dragon sabot shot effectively up to four kilometers away.

Mills leaned against his shovel, slacking off from filling sandbags and watched the engineers hoist the converted rail guns into place on the secondary wall using a crane built on top.

"Damn, I wanna fire that!" He exclaimed to Bartley who was working diligently, shoveling sand into the bags.

"Maybe," Bartley gave a simple reply as he focused on his task.

"Can't wait to see those Blue Boy faces when you blast a massive shotgun in their faces," Mills grinned, "Revenge is best served with a shotgun blast in the face."

"Heard that they have over ten thousand Oerkins and troops headed this way," One of the new Marines said as he worked alongside them.

"You mean Orcs? Ten thousand, how many do we have?" Mills asked.

"300," Came the reply from Bartley.

"Oh no you don't," Mills cursed, "This is sounding a lot like that movie we watched the other night and that one the other day."

"Which moobee?" The elf stopped his work, wiping the sweat off his brows. They were introduced to the wonders of movies and dramas in the recreational room, turning them into die-hard movie junkies.

"This is so much like 300 meets Helm's Deep!"

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