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Goblin Coast, Far Harbour

The loud wailing of a ship's horn blasted out as the UNS Floatin' Wreck left the mooring slips under her own power. Workers and staff lined the harbor watching the converted armored cruiser slowly made it way out of its dock with puffs of grey smoke coming out of its single smokestack.

Commander Ford stood inside the newly built wheelhouse and watched the small bridge crew of three, manning their stations as they slowly piloted the ship out to open waters. Ford finally released the breath he was holding in as the ship cleared the pier and was out in deep water. Most of the crew were from the original UNS Singapore crew, taking charge of the rest of the newly recruited elves and even a couple of goblins working in the boiler room.

Ford picked up an old fashioned handset and dialed to Engineering, "Grayson, how are the engines and boilers holding?"

"Looking good so far," came back the reply.

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UNS Floatin' Wreck, Engineering, Boiler Room

1st Lieutenant Grayson returned the handset back to the wall bracket. He was formerly in charge of Ship Operations & Maintenance onboard the UNS Singapore was recruited by Ford to be the UNS Floatin' Wreck's Executive Officer. He leaped at the chance almost immediately, preferring a command posting rather than working as the Operations Manager for the Colony.

Grayson watched the two goblins who chittered happily next to the magic heat exchange system inside the boiler room. He kept one eye on the pressure gauges and another eye on the two goblins who wore a cut down work overalls and a leather gloves and toolbelt armed with wrenches, spanners, and screwdrivers.

One of Chief Matt's underlings, a black male, grinned at the side to Grayson, "XO, don't worry about Bone and Razor, those two are pretty cool."

Grayson grinned back, "Still, keep an eye on them, Eddie, doesn't hurt to be extra careful."

Petty Officer Eddie had been assigned as the Chief Engineer onboard the Floatin' Wreck by recommendation of Chief Matt and he has been handling his duties seriously. The two goblins, Bone and Razor looked upon Eddie in awe, as Eddie's skin was dark chocolate, making the goblins yapped about him being some reincarnate of some pagan gods they worshipped and not to mention being a techie was more than icing on the cake to them.

The two goblins oversee several valves and dials while scribbling something down on a clipboard and scrambled over to report to Eddie, almost kneeling and bowing. They instead threw a salute and grinned happily, "Pressure good! Heat good!" Plenty of steam!" Bone grinned, showing off his broken tooth, while his topknot was tied with a piece of animal bone.

Razor had a missing ear, reported next, "Magic stones looking good! Plenty of magic, air is not too hot too!"

"Great work!" Eddie double checked their records physically, comparing the numbers they checked on the clipboard against the dials and grinned, "Alright! Keep watch, if the steam pressure hits the red bar, remember to release some of that steam! Don't let the pressure built up too much!"

"Aye aye Chief!"

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UNS Floatin' Wreck

The dull grey hull of the Floatin' Wreck gently crested a wave and a siren blared on and off. Crewmen rushed to their action stations while division heads yelled at the men to their stations. Ford stood inside the wheelhouse and watched as the crew reacted to the drills.

Several crew members rushed up to the 3" bow gun and removed the oilskin tarps covering the weapon. A couple of them started to unlock the ready ammunition lockers next to the gun and started removing shells, while the rest started to spin the cranks, turning the gun to the floating targets dropped overboard earlier by the ship.

The gunners pried open the breech of the gun and a shell was dropped in. The rammer shoved the shell into the breech followed by a thick circular wad of bursting charge and the breech was closed and locked. "Ready!"

The gun team stepped back, covering their ears, leaving only the gunner sighting the weapon. He raised his left hand up to signal to the Weapon's Officer that his gun was ready to fire. The Weapon's Officer stood on top of the wheelhouse, in the flying bridge, giving him a 360 degrees view all around. He turned to the back to look at Gun No. 3 and noted the raised hand.

The officer picked up the handset and spoke, "Captain! No. 1 and No. 3 ready to fire!"

Ford looked at his watch, timing the gun crews readiness and speed. He turned to Grayson and said, "Timing could be better, they took 6 minutes and 39 seconds to ready and lay the guns."

"Yes, sir!" Grayson nodded back, "Its the crew first time working onboard the ship out in the sea. They normally just drilled on a simulated popup of the ship and the guns on land. A few more drills like this, I am sure we can cut their response time by at least 50%!"

Ford nodded, "I understand, actually it's not bad for a start."

Grayson grinned, "Don't worry, Sir. I am sure we got a pretty solid crew here despite most of us are land lubbers."

Ford gave a laugh before he said, "Tell Weapons to give me a three round rapid fire for each gun."

"Aye! Rapid Fire, three rounds!" Grayson repeated the order and spoke into the handset. "Guns, three rounds rapid fire!"

The Weapons Officer, receiving the information, picked up another handset and passed on the order to the guns. "Three rounds rapid fire! Fire!"

The 3" 23 Mark I guns roared. The ship shuddered slightly from the recoil and the gun crews started to service the weapons, extracting the spent shells casing, placing a new shell and bursting charge before slamming both into the breech and locking it. The gunner laid the sights over the target and fired.

The targets were roughly 400 meters away, drifting along with the tide and waves. The shriek of the shells from No. 1 and No. 3 guns landed somewhat nearby the target, throwing meter tall water splashes.

The 2nd volley, landed closer to the floating target, made out of a few barrels and a big red painted rectangular board. The 3rd volley also missed the target, one of the shells landed close enough to sent sprays of seawater over the target.

Ford frowned as he watched the water splashes using binoculars. "Local fire control isn't very accurate." He commented.

"Yes, Sir," Grayson agreed as he watched the artillery practice. "Allow Weapons to control the firing?"

"Yea, let's just keep drilling them," Ford nodded, "Tell Weapons to switch to central control of the guns. Same as before three rounds of rapid fire."

"Aye!" Grayson replied. "Central control and three rounds rapid fire!"

The Weapons Officer received the order to switch to central control and he checked the laser range finder mounted on the pair of powerful binos. He keyed in the numbers onto his tablet, where a firing table and chart calculated the elevations and angles of each individual guns.

He spoke into the handset, directing each gun, giving the elevations and angles to set. The gunners quickly crank the wheels to turn the guns to the correct elevation and angle. Raised hands were soon seen by the Weapon's Officer indicating the guns are laid and loaded. He then yelled into the handset. "Three rounds, rapid! FIRE!"

-----

Goblin Coast, Far Harbor

The UNS Floatin' Wreck gently docked against the pier and the worker threw ropes over to the crew to tie the ship down. Ford stood at the gunwale watching the securing of the ship before the gangplank was laid down. He gestured to Chief Matt who was watching impatiently by the harbor and almost ran up the gangplank once it was set down, followed by his staff.

"How was it?" Chief Matt asked eagerly. "Everything working as it should?"

"Well, one of the two magic heat exchange systems broke down," Ford reported as they entered the wheelhouse. "I think we need a mage onboard to handle arcane stuff."

"I see," Matt nodded, "What other issues are there?"

"We barely topped 14 knots running at full speed, that's 2 knots lesser than what you promised," Ford read out from a note. "And we could only sustain that speed for 36 minutes before one of the magic heat exchangers blew. Lucky there wasn't any injuries."

Matt turned to his staff who nodded, "Got it, we will look at it."

"Next, No. 1 and No. 3 guns are working fine, but I think we need to reinforce the deck more," Ford continued, "The gun crews reported that the deck moved each time they fired."

"Got it, next?" Matt nodded.

"Steer controls feel sluggish like there is too much drag," Ford said. "Also I think No. 2 gun can be installed."

"Sluggish controls and installation of No. 2 gun..." Matt frowned, "OK, We will do a once over. The guns performance?"

Ford grinned. "Not bad, we manage to hit the targets we dropped over. I say with an accuracy of 40%."

"40%?" Matt frowned, "The 3" guns are pretty accurate."

"I know, but we are firing on moving targets on an unstable platform." Ford explained, "4 out of 10 shells hitting a target the size of a car is pretty good for a rookie crew, don't you think?"

"True," Matt conceded. "I guess more drills and training will be required yes?"

"Of course!" Ford looked at his crew being drilled by Grayson as they docked. "Training and drills keep the crew sharp and deadly."

-----

Southern Sea of the Isles

Fleet Master Dijon frowned as he watched pieces of wreckage and flotsam drifting up against the hull of his ship. Several of his crew were dredging the flotsam, trying to see if they could hook some up to identify which ship had been wrecked or destroyed.

"Anything?" Dijon asked as he walked back to the helm.

"Master Dijon," The First Mate of the Fury replied, "We don't know what ships were lost here, or who is fighting who."

"There is plenty of wreckages floating around and these might have being carried over by sea currents and waves," He said as he held a piece of broken wood, carefully giving it a once over before he tossed it over the side. "But it looks like maybe two to three ships worth of wreckages?"

"Order the rest of the fleet to close up and be ready for combat. And bring the cargo transports to the middle of the formation," Dijon ordered, "I want the fastest ship to scout ahead."

"Aye, Master!" The First Mate nodded and started to bellow at the signal boy who was in charge of laying out the signal flags.

Soon a flurry of colorful flags arranged in a certain order was flying from the tops of the sails. Dijon raised his telescope and watched the other ships in his fleet reply with a confirmation signal flag and the ships started to close up into a circular formation. The group of merchant ships carrying ore and grains for the rebels stayed inside the protective formation. The ships promised by Dijon to the rebels also took shelter inside.

"Master, at this rate, we will reach Far Harbor in three days," The navigator spoke up as he reviewed the sea charts. "As long as the wind holds and we do not meet any dangers."

Dijon nodded and kept his hands behind his back as he watched the drifting wreckage and flotsam slowly drift away. There was an occasional bump as a barrel or crate hit the hull of his ship and he frowned, wondering what has happened around these seas and the only way to know is to see which ships fail to report back according to schedule.

"Calm seas and fair weather..." He whispered softly to himself.

"What the thirteen hells is happening?"

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A note from neo Koh

Advance chapters are available on Pat-reon (Book 1 completed)

 

https://www.patreon.com/neobear

 

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Pixel art of UNS Floatin Wreck !

 

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