UNS Singapore, Command Bridge

"Captain, Isles's Fleet currently on an east heading, 116 km away from the wreck," The operator reported from her station. "The Fleet has just passed by Point Baker and heading towards Point Charlie, estimated time of arrival, 7 hours 48 minutes."

Commander Ford traced his fingers on the tactical table plot, measuring the distance between the fleet and the wreckage, and nodded, "Sir, we can begin salvage operations. The Islanders shouldn't be able to see what we are doing at this distance."

"Do it," Blake ordered, "But make sure the work team takes safety precautions."

"Aye Captain." The operator turned back to her station and started issuing instructions.

"Lucky we managed to recover the lost platoon," Ford sighed, as he traced his finger up the digital map on the table, tapping at a spot in a forested area. "We haven't fully mapped out nor explored this area yet."

Blake joined Ford at the table and leaned both arms on it, as he looked at the map of their surroundings. "We only barely managed to survey and explored a radius of roughly 200 km around the Colony and roughly a 50 to a hundred km of each outpost we have out there." Blake indicated the mines, hydro dam, farms, and Far Harbor.

"We might need to do a proper mapping of our surroundings, but it is just too manpower intensive if the area is forested," Ford replied. "and manpower is something we can barely spare!"

Blake nodded, "We really need to find more ways to resolve our manpower issues."

"How about getting more autonomous golems adapted for the factories?" Ford replied, "Automatic manufactories should reduce a lot of our manpower issues."

"No, we only have one source of golems and it's from one Elementalist" Blake replied. "Should anything happen to her, our industry will be crippled."

Ford nodded, "Maybe we can get more slaves and free them?"

"Urgh... where do we get the gold for that?" Blake sighed, "Unless... We strike directly at their slaves' markets and free everyone?"

"But do we have the lift capabilities for an attack?" Ford asked.

Blake rapped the table and looked up at Ford, "We need to prepare and plan for that scenario once we have the lift capabilities."


Goblin Coast, Shipwreck

Chief Matt stood on the slanted deck surrounded by a thin layer of fog. He leaned over the railings and barely made out the few figures on the beach who had drawn up several spell formations, which were activated currently. Tendrils of fog drifted out from the center of the spell formation and covering the surrounding areas with a layer of mist.

Chief Matt nodded with satisfaction at the fog created by the students, knowing that it will effectively cover their salvaging operations from any prying eyes. He turned to his men and said, "Start securing the ship with the load bearing straps! Once the Isles Fleet is out of range we can prepare to float the ship out!"

"Aye Chief!" The men excitedly started their work. "Check the lines!"

The weapons onboard had been removed and tossed overboard before being dragged to shore. The remaining stores and furniture were too removed and dumped overboard. Several techs dressed in their EVA (Extra Vehicular Activity) space suits less all the accessories like maneuvering thrusters had dropped into the water under the ship and straps were carefully wrapped under the barnacles infested bottom of the ship's hull before being secured to through the opened wide rectangular gun ports.

The techs underworld worked carefully and slowly due to the force of the waves and the dangers of getting crashed between the hull of the ship and the rock reefs. They also have to be careful of the razor-sharp barnacles and shellfish that covered the surfaces of the rocks and hull.

It had taken the men in the EVA space suits a couple of hours to wrap four sets of load-bearing straps under the ship and once they were done, packets of self-inflating floats were looped into the straps and carefully secured to the straps at strategic locations.

Other crew members spent the time ensuring the timbers and the main deck of the ship was solid. The two radial engines were then secured under the main deck and bolted into the wooden frame of the ship. The two sets of paddle wheels were left on the top deck waiting to be installed once the ship had been successfully refloated.

"Chief!" A tech yelled from the beach, "HQ reports that the Islander's Fleet has just passed Point Baker! We are cleared to commence salvage operations!"

"Got it!" Matt hollered back, "Pack up the gear and be ready to embark on the ship!"

"The rest activate the floats!" Matt ordered, and the men jumped to his orders.

On the hull, were four sets of load bearing straps each ladened with a single floatation device on the sides. The men in the main deck pulled a tab linked to the devices and the CO2 canister releases the gas stored inside and the floats popped out from their packaging and enlarged into bright orange pods.

The ship tilted and groaned as the balance of the ship shifted on the rocks. "Check the hull for any leaks!" Matt yelled, "Also check the floats! See if any have any leaks too!"

The ship was a hive of activity as the small army of techs ran up and down the hatches, verifying and double checking the hull to ensure everything is shipshape. Soon the tide started to come in, and the ship groaned as it was carried up by the secured floats. Matt and his crew held their breath as they all stood at the railings, looking at the floats rubbing against the rock reefs, hearing the scratching and squeaking of the floats.

Everyone prayed and hoped that the floats will not burst or erupt from the rock reefs. Slowly, minute by minute, the squeaking of the floats disappear as the rock reefs vanished under the rising tide and the ship was freed!

"YESSSH!" Matt and his techs cheered wildly, some hugging or high fiving each other. "Alright! Phase One is done! Now for Phase Two!" Matt turned around and yelled at the celebrating techs, "The hard part is over but we still need to ensure the ship doesn't get beached or trapped on the rocks again!"

"Bring the ship around to face the open sea!" Matt ordered, and one of the techs quickly manned the helm, spinning the steering wheel, turning the replaced and serviced rudder, forcing the ship's bow to point towards the open sea.

"Activate the CO2 canisters!" Matt ordered once the ship was facing the right direction. The men yelled down the hatches, repeating Matt's order and the tech yanked two cords which were connected to a dozen canisters of CO2 strapped under the hull. The CO2 canisters released the gas and a burst of bubbles erupted out, the force of the bubbles escaping, shoved the ship against the waves and tide, pushing the ship out towards the sea.

One of the precious motion detectors were repurposed as a sonar used as a depth sounder, the tech held the handheld device at the bow of the ship, yelling out the readings of the depth as the CO2 canisters shoved the ship further from shove. Once a safe distance was achieved, Matt ordered the anchor to be dropped and the ship came to a slow halt.

"Good work people!" Matt grinned at his excited team, "Alright, start installing the paddle wheels and contact the guys on the beach to row the boats over." The two longboats and a further two wooden dingies were found hidden along the forest edge, covered with foliage, most likely dragged up from the beach by the original crew and hidden. The Marines had discovered them and the techs used the boats to ferry from the beach to the ship and carry gear up and down.

The beach party had loaded up all the essentials and equipment onboard the boats and were waiting for the ship to be floated out before joining them out at the sea.

Matt grinned as he saw the men carefully lowered the paddle wheel down one side of the ship with ropes and hands stretched out from the gun ports of the main deck underneath to grab the wheel before they attached the wheel into the steel shaft. A tech lowered himself down with ropes and used a power tool to bolt the wheel securely to the power shaft.

This process was repeated on the other side, and the boats from the beach also arrived, the grinning faces of the students to the techs staring up at the ship as they holler excitedly. They paddled the boats to the side and a swing out crane was pushed out with ropes were dropped over for them to secure the boat with all the equipment and crates of supplies, which the men slowly hoist the boats up one by one, before securing them on the deck.

Matt looked at the men gathered on the deck as they finished all the work of securing the boats and equipment. He grinned and said, "Alright! Now is the final part of our plan! We are gonna run the paddles and sail home! Hoist the anchor! Make ready for sail! Now give me your best pirate warcry!"

"UGHHH~!" The human techs roared and laughed before they scampered to their stations, leaving the elves with a confused look on their faces. "Is it a hooman thing to shout 'Urghh' before they set sail on a ship?"

Matt laughed as he heard the elven crew said that, "Power up the engines!" He roared, as the men turned the capstan of the anchor, pulling the heavy anchor up.

Suddenly the cough and the purring roar of engines and the slight vibration could be heard and felt as the twin engines powered up. Matt waited till the anchor were properly secured before he gave the next order, "Engage the wheels! Give me Ahead Slow!"

"Ahead Slow, Aye!" One of the techs repeated and yelled down the order to the crew below, "Ahead slow!"

The two paddle wheels started turning as the shaft was engaged and it started to splash water, pushing the ship forward slowly. "It's moving!" The men yelled excited from their stations as they peered out from the open gun ports and windows openings. "Woo Hooo!"

Matt grinned as he felt a slight breeze against his skin, "Give me Half Full Ahead!"



The ship started to pick up speed, slowly gaining speed from 1 knot to a steady 4 knots. Matt went down to the main decks to check on the engines and found most of the men had stripped away their top as the temperature rosed up from the heat created by the Dragonite powered engines despite the opened gun ports and windows.

"Chief!" The tech in charge of the engines frowned, "We are just going at half speed, and the engines are looking like they are gonna overheat!"

"Damn," Chief Matt looked around the deck, "The airflow is not strong enough to cool the engines!"

"At this rate, before we go 10 km, the engines will melt!" The tech reported with a grim face. "We need some way to cool them!"

"Wait!" Chief Matt snapped his fingers, "I know just the thing!" He turned quickly climbed back up the hatch, leaving behind the clueless tech.

"Hey, kids!" Chief Matt found the small group of students gathered at the bow of the ship, enjoying the view. "I need your help!"

"Chief?" One of the students stepped forward, "My name is Elza Glassten, a first year. I am the leader of this party. What do you need our help with?"

"Elza, I need you and your party to help create a magic formation that creates cold air!"

"Cold air?" Elza tilted her head with her brown hair tied into a bun. "I think we can do it, but why?"

"The engines are overheating!" Matt explained, "It is too hot and will overheat and break down. That is why we need to cool the engines down!"

"I see," Elza nodded, and looked at her party of four and smiled.

"Let's go solve this heat problem!"

A note from neo Koh

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