Far Harbour, Pier, Fury

Fleet Master Dijon looked at the pitiful few ex slaves that were willing to follow them back to the Isles and sighed. The transport ship was able to carry over 500 men and women, yet barely a tenth of the passager hold will be used. He sighed and glanced at out to the sea, seeing dozens of longboats ferrying his men and supplies to the ships anchored offshore.

"Fleet Master!" His first mate called out, as he walked barefooted towards Dijon and gestured to the pier. "Compliments of the Princess."

Dijon looked down from the decks of his flagship and saw dozens and dozens of crates were being delivered by workers. He strolled down the gangplank and gestured his some of his crew to open the crates and follow each crate was filled with glassware.

The harbor master dressed in a strange single piece of clothing said, "Sir! The Princess offers you this glassware in compensation of the number of freed slaves. It's the least she can offer you, she said."

Dijon checked another few more crates. finding each crate containing at least 40 sets of glass goblets. He gave a low whistle, as the quality and clarity of the glass were beyond anything they have, matching or even surpassing the Master artisans at home and in greater quantities too. He mentally calculated the value, estimating that a single glass goblet could probability sell at around two to three gold coins, meaning the stacks of crates here would be worth as much as a small ship!

"Thank your mistress for me!" Dijon grinned, thinking that maybe he did not lose out much after all on this trip. "I will look forward to coming back for another visit!"

"Please do so, Sir!" The harbor master bowed, "We will greatly appreciate and welcome your visits! Swift winds and calm seas!"

"Swift winds and calm seas!" Dijon replied, gestured his men to carefully load the crates of glassware to the ship, before he glanced at the distance white stone building, "I will be back."


UNS Singapore, Command Bridge

"Captain, Far Harbor reports that the Isles' Fleet has left our waters," The communications officer reported from his station. "Harbor security is doing a sweep of the area to ensure no stragglers were left behind."

Blake nodded, "Put me through to Major Frank, please."

"Aye, stand by Sir!" The communication officer tapped several keys, before the screen in front of Blake lighted up with a <CONNECTING VID LINK> text.

Soon Major Frank's image appeared on the screen and he saluted, "Captain!"

"How's the search going?" Blake asked.

Frank frowned, "No news yet, I have the Dragons dropping active radio transmitters with a cable down into the canopy of the forest, and only having my search party replying. The missing platoon is still not responding to our hails."

"Damn, could they been wiped out by monsters or the same thing that took the sailors?" Blake asked worriedly.

"Sir, we found tracks of a campfire and orc tracks," Frank replied, "And tracks of the missing platoon too, so far all indicated that they were following the orc tracks."

"It's been more than 36 hours since they went missing," Blake sighed, "Step it up, if not call off the search, I leave it to your judgment."

"Yes, Captain!" Frank nodded before Blake closed the connection.

"Damn, always one shit after another," Blake leaned his head back.

"Captain," Commander Ford spoke up from his workstation. "You need to take a break."

"Well, when we have no shit happening, I will then take a break," Blake sighed. "There just so much to do, and everything has risks."

"Well at least the slime plant is on track now," Ford grinned.

"Ahhh... slime plant... who came up with such a horrible naming..." Blake groaned at Ford's reminder.

"Well, it processes slimes for use to various industries," Ford replied, "Don't forget, you and the Princess supposed to be there tomorrow morning for the opening ceremony!"

"Urgh, can't you go in my stead?" Blake asked, "I'll take a double shift in exchange!"

"Nope, You're the big boss!" Ford winked, "and besides, your girlfriend is there!"

"Damn..." Blake cursed Ford, "Alright, anyway, what's the assessment of the shipwreck?"

Ford checked his tablet before replied, "Well, we sent a couple of teams down to check it out, looks like its still intact, except for a couple of holes just below the waterline."

"Most of the equipment is still onboard, except for the ship's charts." Ford added, "Guess they are smart enough to remove any maps."

Blake nodded, "Is it salvageable?"

"I have Chief Matt to take a look with one of the teams," Ford nodded, "He says we just need to unload all the heavy stuff onboard, like the ballistas, catapults, ballast, and other supplies to lighten the ship. Next, he said, we can attach the deployable floats from the lifeboats, and wait for the tide and float the ship out. as it is stuck on the rocks."

"Do it," Blake gave his approval, "But I do not want the Islanders to know what we are doing. Make sure none of their ships are nearby when we float the ship out."

"Finder keepers?" Ford gave a suggestion, "I mean they should have some salvage rules of the sea here right?"

"We don't know," Blake answered, "So play it safe, and if we can repair and upgrade that wreck, it will be useful in the future."

Ford nodded, "That's why you told the Princess not to mention to them that we found their missing ship?"

"Yup," Blake grinned, "Cause I want to steal it!"



Somewhere in the forest northeast of the Wreck

"CONTACT!" Someone yelled, and a harsh bark of an M1 Magelock roared out, sending a stab of flames into the dwindling darkness. "Incoming!"

Yelps and shrieks suddenly rang out in the dark forest twilight as goblins rushed out from the undergrowth, ambushing the tired and lost Marines.

"Form up! Give me a defensive circle!" Lieutenant Coraths yelled as he looked around in confusion at the dark figures. "Lights! Give me some flares!" He yelled next to the platoon mage who threw up some magical flares that lit up their surroundings.

"No!" Mills yelled from his position as he saw what the Lieutenant ordered. The pitiful few lights popped into existence, providing a soft warm glow, that clearly exposed goblins but also the Marines within the magical glow.

The goblins screamed in delight as they saw the highlighted Marines under the glow and rushed forward, their eyesight clearly more superior in the dark compared to the elves who tried to filter out which were shadows and which were goblins in the dim glow.

"Fuck!" Mills cried as he fired point blanked at a goblin that appeared to grow out from a bush. "Back!" He ordered, "Form a firing line here!"

The men followed his orders, back pedaling as they fired at anything that moved, while Coraths was rallying the other men on the other flank. Suddenly, Mills heard Coraths calling for a charge, and he was stupefied, a charge into the dark against unknown numbers? Is he crazy?

He saw the men of Section 1 and 2, with a few others from 3 and 4 rush forward, screaming a war cry and slamming into the surprised goblins and for a moment, it looked like the charge worked in the Marines favour, till suddenly a Marine screamed and his broken body flew over the heads of the rest and crumbled against a tree.

A large shadow stepped into the magical glow, resolving into a forest troll. "Troll!" The men yelled, "RPG!!!"

Mills turned and yelled at the nearest Marine with an RPG-1 on his back, "Quick! Take out that troll or they all be butchered!" The Marine and his buddy quickly yanked the tube out and crouched down while the rest hurried away from the back blast and providing cover for the team.

"ONE ROUND AWAY!" The HEAT (High Explosive Anti Tank) rocket screamed out and impacted on the troll, blowing its arm, causing it to bellow in anger and pain. "RELOAD!"

The angered troll hammered its fist on a slow-moving Marine, beating him into a pulp while the others fired at it and tried to retreat, only to have the giggling goblins sneaking in for a stab or poke.

"Lieutenant! What do we do?" Someone yelled at the stunned Coraths who stared open-mouthed at the Troll ravaging his men. "Sir?!"

"Ah.. hit it with rockets... yes! The RPGs!" Coraths blinked rapidly and turned around looking for any Marines with RPGs. "QUICK!"

"Shit!" Mills cursed as he saw Coraths panicking, "Come on guys! Hit it again and don't miss!"

"You!" Mills ran to the Orc machine gunner, "Ignore the Troll! Suppress the goblins instead!"

The orc nodded his helmeted head, and resting the bipod of his MG-1 on a tree root and fired sending bright arcs of tracers into the undergrowth.

"Up!" The RPG team yelled and aimed the weapon at the one-armed Troll, "ONE ROUND AWAY!" and the rocket impaled itself in the hard belly of the Troll before it blew up, ripping the troll into two halves. The Troll continued to scream and struggle on the ground as its lifeblood slowly drained away.

By then it was too late, more than half of the platoon were dead or dying, with the remaining half with wounds of varies degrees. Despite the death of the Troll, the goblins, like sharks sensing blood, rushed in wave after wave, shrieking wildly and waving crude weapons at the retreating Marines.

"Fuck this!" Mills cursed, as he fired his weapon mechanically, the tide of goblins were like endless, popping out from the shadows every now and then. "Back!"

"Hold the line!" Coraths yelled suddenly. "Hold the line!"

"What?" Mills paused and turned to look at the Lieutenant. "What is he trying to do now?"

"We leave no man behind!" Coraths yelled again, "Stand your ground! Kill those green scum!"

"Is he serious?" Mills felt like he was dreaming, "Shit!"

"BELAY THAT ORDER!" Mills roared angrily, and the remaining Marines looked confused.

"Sir! We need to pull back and regroup!" Mills yelled at Coraths as he made his way over while reloading his weapon. "We are outnumbered and blind here!"

"No! We hold the line! We will not leave the bodies of our brothers to the green scum!" Coraths stubbornly cried, his M2 against his shoulder as he fired at anything that moved in front of him.

"You serious?" Mills looked at the wide eyed Coraths. "We need to fall back! You impulsive charge nearly killed everyone! The goblins will overrun us!"

"Coward!" Coraths screamed at Mills, "You hoomans think you are so smart! But when come to fighting, you are all the first to run!"

"What did you say?" Mills expression turned cold, "You want to repeat that again?"

"Coward! Sergeant, I am charging you for insubordination!" Coraths continued to scream at Mills, "I am busting you back to private! Get out of my sight!"

The surrounding men turned and looked at each other, confusion on their faces. "Sir, I don't think this is the time for this..."

"Shut it private! You want me to charge you for insubordination too?" Coraths turned and screamed at the Marine.

"Enough!" Mills yelled, "Lieutenant Coraths, I relieve you, sir, under the authority of paragraph 1088 of Naval Regulations, for your reckless hazarding of your command. I assume full responsibility with this and will forward a complete report to the next higher commander, with witness statements from all concerned. You will stand down as the commanding officer, and remain escorted until such time as you are notified otherwise."

"Corporal!" Mills barked to the surprise of the men around him, "Take the Lieutenant's weapons! Assign someone to watch over him! Lieutenant, I hope you cooperate as we are under combat situation now, don't make it worst!"

"What? You are relieving me of command?" Coraths eyes looked even wider than before. "You have no authority, coward!"

"Take him, Corporal!" Mills sighed, "The rest watch your sectors, prepare to move out!"

"You... you...!" Coraths looked like he was going to have a heart attack.

"Sir?" The Corporal gently removed Coraths's rifle and his sidearm before gesturing the private he scolded earlier to look over him.

Mills quickly reorganized the remaining men into two sections, "One, pull back 50 meters and hold! Two provide fire support!" He commanded the men to pull back in a tactical withdrawal.

"Back! Move it!"

A note from neo Koh

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