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Tyrier Lodess blew out a blue smoke ring as he leaned back against the posh sofa, savoring the smooth smokeleaf taste rolling in his mouth. He sighed contently as he watched the small crowd in the Clubs and Royals Gentlemen Club mingle among themselves and wondered how many of these sons of bitches jumped over to the Empire side on the first signs of trouble.

"Tyrier!" A voice calling his name snapped him out of his wandering thoughts and he looked around, seeing the fat form of Otoro Arther walking over to him with a large smile pasted over his face.

"Hello, old friend," Tyrier gave a wave and gestured Otoro to join him at his table. "Have a seat."

Otoro dropped his heavy mass onto the chair and it sank visibly and managed to somehow support his weight. "One thick cut, Ruby Stag steak, medium raw with a side of fried taters." He gave his order to the uniformed waiter serving at his side. "Also a bottle of fine red fire."

Tyrier waved away the waiter who looked in askance, "I have eaten."

"So," Tyrier turned his attention to Otoro while continuing to puff his smokeleaf cigar. "What do you think of the deal?" He asked after they were left alone.

"There is no problem for the livestock and seeds," Otoro said as he went into full business mode. "But the trade route through the Uncharted Forest..."

"Well, if you can deliver the goods, you don't have to worry on my client's end," Tyrier gave his assurance. "They can take care of transporting the goods once it is delivered to the agreed location."

"But the Empire might take note of the shipment..." Otoro pressed on. "It is risky..."

"Come on, old friend," Tyrier shook his head, "I am sure you know how to move goods in and out unnoticed by the Empire."

"Hmmm," Otoro finally nodded, "Its a deal, and the payment?"

"Payment will be on delivery," Tyrier smiled, "Don't worry, if this deal goes well, there will be more contracts in the future."

Otoro nodded again, stuffing a napkin onto his collar, and kept quiet as the waiter returned with a plate of dark red meat and a bottle of amber red colored wine. Tyrier waited till Otoro finished a mouthful of the rich looking meat before asking, "Regarding the other contract, what is you and your client's answer to my client's proposal?"

Otoro cut another piece of meat and chewed thoughtfully before swallowing it. "If your side can provide the protection for the shipment, they are willing to do things your way. But... they can't trust you fully."

Tyrier took a deep pull with his cigar and puffed out, "The problem is more on your client's side. How do we know if they are not really reselling on the other side?"

Otoro put down his knife and fork, and dabbed away the juice and oil from his mouth before saying, "I can vouch for them."

"Then you can rest assured that my client will do all in their power to ensure the safety of the cargo," Tyrier replied with a smile, "But if they wish to stay, you and your clients can't force them to leave."


"I... I can't make that decision," Otoro picked up his knife and fork and started eating again. "I need to discuss with them."

"Well, if you go by my client's route, it will be a lot safer than cutting through the Uncharted Forest," Tyrier said.

"But," Otoro pointed with his fork at Tyrier, "The traveling time by sea will be increased by at least a week!"

"Think about it," Tyrier unceremoniously poured himself a glass of red fire wine. "If my client can secure a safe route, won't you merchants benefit in the end?"

"Your current route is to cut through the Uncharted Forest, then the Sea Plains followed by climbing over the Mountains before going cut through the unknown territory towards the sea." Tyrier pointed out. "My client can ensure safety from half of the Uncharted Forest and to the sea directly. In fact, other then the extended sea passage, I expect the traveling time on land will be faster by at least one week or more!"

Otoro paused in his eating and gave a serious expression, "Are you serious?"

"Do I look like I am joking with you?" Tyrier looked squarely at Otoro and sipped the wine.

"This deal is too good to be true..." Otoro replied, "I never trust a deal like that."

Tyrier sighed, feeling exhausted trying to convince his friend. "Alright, the truth is my client wants to recruit people and also trade for basic resources like food, metals, and crystals."

"If you work with my client, my client can also gain a friendly contact with your client and could also form some trade contracts both ways," Tyrier made up some story on the spot.

"Hmmm, that makes sense," Otoro finished his steak and gave a small burp. "But if the Empire finds out?"

Tyrier leaned forward and whispered, "Why do you think the former Duke is on the run now?"

Otoro's gleamed brightly when he heard that. "Interesting! Very interesting!" He wiped his oily mouth and grinned. "I will contact my client and once they replied, I will give you an answer."

Tyrier nodded and leaned back to enjoy his cigar, hoping that what he talked with Otoro tonight is enough to convince the people behind him.

-----

Seacliff Mining Facility, Field Hospital

A massive silver dragon loomed over James who fired his M2 uselessly at the behemoth. The mouth yawned open and a glow lit up the insides of the mouth before a dazzling bright light lit up James's world.

He jolted awake, sweat drenching his hospital scrubs and winced in pain as his sudden moment pulled his internal injuries. James rolled to his side coughing in pain and realized that a blue light was flashing in the room.

He took a few deep breaths and realized the facility silent warning siren has gone off. A harried-looking nurse hurried past his row and he called out to the nurse. "What's go-going on?"

"It's a goblin raid," The pretty nurse looked deadly pale in the flashing blue lights and white LED lights of the field hospital. "Don't worry, we should be alright, we will be moving everyone into the mines." after saying that, she headed off to somewhere urgently.

"Damn, I was having this sweet dream with this girl..." Someone down the row of beds joked, and those awake laughed before lapsing into painful coughs.

"Sarge," Someone laying next to him asked James, "What do we do now?"

"We can't do shit in our condition," James panted as he laid back on his back. "Just trust your brothers out there."

"Hooraaah..."

-----

Sergeant Collins peered into the darkness with his night vision sensors and cursed. Just a few minutes ago, the outer perimeter sensors were tripped and movement detectors picked up dozens and dozens of sensor returns.

"Turn out the men, and sound the silent alarm, have all non-combat personnel help evacuate the wounded into the mines as we had drilled," Collins instructed the crew manning the Security Control Center. "We got a shitload of goblins coming for us!"

He left the SCC carrying his weapon and headed up the perimeter walls, where he saw several Marines were already on the alert and watching their firing zones in the wall bunkers. He quickly left the walls and head towards the parade square.

Two and a half platoons to cover the entire complex walls of over 4 kilometers. With the basic complement of security guards of 50 and his 69 combat effective Marines, each man has to cover roughly 35 meters of the wall by themselves.

By this time, all the combat capable Marines and Security had assembled at the parade square. Collins quickly assigned the troops to their defensive sectors. There were three walls, NW, SE and SW with the main gate, covering the complex that converged to the natural cliffs.

-----

The grass parted as a goblin carrying a crude spear crawled flat on its belly towards the lights of the strange yummy soft skin castle. Hundreds more shadowy shapes crept or crawled behind, all with one goal in their mind and bellies.

-----

"Damn it, how I wish I had a battery of mortars," Collins cursed again as he watched the goblins crawled their way past the 500 meters mark. "A couple of airbursts would seriously ruin their day."
He keyed the section leaders comms and ordered, "All units are weapons free at 200 meters, the facility floodlights will be turned on to signal the attack!"

Acknowledgments replied him and he returned to watching the sneaky goblins. "They are not from the goblin fleet Delta company defeated, so these must be the local goblins, which means there is a nest somewhere close."

"Sarge," One of the techs in the SCC called him, "HQ says reinforcements are on their way, and aerial support is 20 mikes out."

Collins nodded, and saw on the screens the miners and their dependants moving into the mines, while others helped the medical staff push the beds with the critically wounded or support those still capable of moving on their own into the mines.

"Alright, once all non-essential personnel has evacuated into the mines, lock it down," Collins ordered.

"Sarge! The green skins had crossed the 200 meters mark!" A support tech yelled from his station.

"Turn on the lights!" Collins commanded, "Blind them!"

-----

Stationed all along the perimeter walls were several powerful floodlights taken from the spare supply stores of the ship, UNS Singapore. The 225,000 lumens LED lights capable of lighting up stadiums blazed on, instantly illuminating the cleared land surrounding the walls and turning the night into day.

The goblins creeping up to the walls were suddenly blinded as the floodlights came on, most stood up and cried tears of pain at the bright lights in their face and the Marine section leaders seeing the goblins exposed themselves, yelled, "FIRE AT WILL!"

At roughly 200 meters away, most Marines were capable of hitting a man sized target. The smaller sized goblins were harder to hit as they were small and wiggling about in panic, but still many shots torn into the goblins, blowing away heads and limbs.

Knowing that their element of surprise was gone, the goblin chief ordered an all out charge to the walls, most followed his order, while others stumbled half blind in panic. Goblin archers with crudely built short bows fitted arrows and released them blindly towards the walls, hoping by luck to hit something. The gathered reserve of goblins was also pushed up, no longer worried about being stealthy and they charged forward, screaming in high pitch voices for blood.

"Aim for the archers!" The command was passed on, and the men echoed it along the walls.

The attack was coming from the South Western Gate and the South Eastern walls, leaving the North West facing wall quiet of any activity. Collins was tempted to pull some men off the NW walls to support the defenses at the Gate but decided not to commit yet. So far, the goblins had only managed to cross the 100 meters mark, their short legs giving them a disadvantage in closing the distance to the walls.

Cracks of fire and thunder rippled out from the wall bunkers, the heavy lead rounds punching through two or more goblins if they were stacked up closely. Even the lead bullets ricocheted off the ground would seriously injure a goblin if it was in the path of the spent bullet.

"How many are there!" Collins looked in disbelief as the outer perimeter motion sensors beeped madly, and the display screen showed a dark green horde pouring out from the forest edge towards the walls. The computer estimated roughly seven thousand and climbing sensor contacts moving in the forest towards the complex.

"Contact HQ, tell them we got a horde of goblins heading our way, if they don't hurry and give us some support, we might get overrun anytime!"

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