Haven, Research and Development lab

"What's that smell?" Senior Spaceman Tae Joon Pak asked as he kicked back on his chair. "Koichi?"

Tae Joon quickly saved his work on his computer before he stood up and went to find the source of the smell in the lab. "What is that?"

He saw Koichi and the other IT guys clustered around the table in the pantry. "What are you guys up to?"

"Ohh TJ!" Koichi smiled excitedly, his thick glasses fogging up from the steam coming from the portable grill in front of him. "Come! Come!"

"What are you all doing?" Tae Joon joined them and did a double take at the grill. "Wait, takoyaki?"

"Hai!" Koichi expertly flipped the half cooked balls of dough with a pick. "I managed to get some tako directly from guys at Biohazard and Containment lab!"

"Why will there be octopus from Biohazard?" Tae Joon gave a confused expression.

"Haha, it's from that Kaiju!" Koichi grinned. "B and C labs just finished the testings and has cleared it fit for human consumption!"

"But I thought that monster smells?" Tae Joon picked up the bowl filled with chunks of purple white meat on the table and sniffed it. "Hmm?"

"The smell comes from the slime it secretes out," Koichi continued flipping the takoyaki balls on the grill. "Anyway, I got some of the meat from B and C and borrowed the grill from Chef Keito and see if it tastes good!"

Koichi expertly flipped the takoyaki out onto a plate and squirt some mayonnaise over them. "Too bad we don't have any okonomi sauce and bento flakes!"

"Come let's eat it while it's still hot!" Koichi offered the plate to the rest of the IT department gang who hesitated. "I try it first then!"

He poked one of the takoyaki and bit into it. "MmmMMM! Oishii desu!"

"Really?" The rest looked at each other and gathered their courage and they each took one and ate it. "Ohhh! Not bad!"

"Let's try grilling it with just salt!" Koichi suggested next and he dropped the chunks of Krarga into the round cups of the takoyaki grill and sprinkled some salt in.

Soon the whole team just busied themselves grilling and cooking the Krarga in the pantry, enjoying the octopus like taste of the monster.


Orwell's Point, River Port

The roar of the FB - 1 Mariner slowly died down as the flying boat glided to a gentle bump against the wooden dock.

The side hatch swung out and the aircrew tossed ropes to the waiting workers at the port, securing the flying boat to the pier. Members of Claymore One climbed out of the hatch and stretched themselves after the five hours plus journey in the cramped seating.

"Hello, guys!" Mills waved at them while seated on one of the pilings and chewing away at some jerky. "Enjoyed the flight?"

Tyrier smiled and shooked hands with Mills, "It was okay, just too noisy for a good nap."

"Ha!" Mills grinned back. "Let's get your gear offloaded and have a meet the CO session!"

"Well, lookie here," Mills winked at the next two Marines that came out of the plane. "I see you guys are here to join in the fun too?"

"Put a sock in it!" Drake mumbled as he gently set his weapon case down on the dock. "Can't have you take all the glory!"

Mills laughed and hi fived Kont who said in a serious tone, "Well, they needed the pros, so here we are!"

The men of Claymore One laughed at Mills's expression and he shrugged in defeat, "Damn, I give up!"

He turned to the group of half naked men who sat on their heels at the side watching the byplay curiously and said in Common, "Alright, help offload the cargo from the plane and bring it back to the stronghold!"

The half naked workers nodded and when down to the plane where the aircrew started to offload the cargo out to waiting hands.

"You guys are using slave labor?" Drake's eyebrows rose up as he hefted his weapon case over his back.

"Nah," Mills shook his head. "They kinda formed some union or faction and said that they are willing to work for us if we pay them fairly."

"So the CO used the money we liberated from the nobles here and paid them their fair dues," Mills clarified. "We aren't ill treating them at all!"

"I see," Drake nodded. "Well, I guess its good for them to have paid work now."

"Well, plenty of the farms, merchants, and locals aren't too happy about it," Mills replied as he led them off the dock area. "We had to put down a few protests and some it turned quite ugly."

"The ex slaves are also not having a good time either," Mills continued to give them a brief of the city happenings. "Some of the locals had been downright nasty with them, treating them still like some animals, of course, they only dared to do that when we can't see and it is hard to track down the perpetrators for the hate crimes."

"In return, some of the ex slaves had formed gangs and are retaliating back to the locals," Mills sighed. "Now both sides are having a cold war, while we in the middle are trying to ensure that the whole city doesn't explode."

"Why not impose martial law on the city?" Drake asked while the rest listened on. "It will limit the movement of both parties and reduce the amount of conflict."

"We sorta having a curfew going on now," Mills replied. "No one is to be on the streets after the tenth bell. Anyone caught gets thrown into the city dungeons. No excuses accepted."

"But still the city needs the labor provided by the ex slaves to function," Mills led them onto a wagon where a couple of raptor like dragons were hitched on to. The ex slaves carried the offloaded cargo and piled them onto the back of the wagon. "The locals couldn't provide enough manpower to run the city and we do not have enough troops to totally lock down the city. Hence the CO decided not to put the city under martial law."

The cargo from the plane took up three wagonfuls of space and the men hitched up on side and tops of the crates as the driver snapped the reins, sending the wagons jolting off uncomfortably over the unevenly paved roads.

It took them almost fifteen minutes to reach the Stronghold where 2nd Battalion set up shop at. The newly arrived Marines and Special Forces took in their surroundings, feeling the tense atmosphere of the locals and ex slaves in the city.

They saw a couple of fights breaking out between the young locals and the ex slaves over some unknown issues. Whistles blew as Marines equipped in riot gear charged through the crowd, welding shields, and batons. They waddle into the fight and lashed out with their shields and batons forcefully breaking up the fight.

"Damn, this city feels like it's sitting on a powder keg!" Hitsu whispered to Loke. "I wonder what will happen if the whole city suddenly revolts!"

Loke shook his head, "That is not our problem, we have enough on our plate already!"

"Loke is right," Tyrier said from the top of the crate. "We just focus on our mission. 2nd Battalion will handle the problems in the city."

The wagons creaked to a stop after passing the sentry posts and lined up together while a team of 2nd Battalion Marines in work fatigue gathered to offload the cargo. "Well, we are here. We just call this place, the Stronghold. The CO is upstairs at the Great Hall, waiting for you."

The men followed Mills into the keep and climbed up a grand staircase before entering high ceiling hall where computers and displays were set up all over the Great Hall. Electronic beeps and professional voices of operators working over their stations could be heard with an echoing ambient.

Everyone stood at attention while Mills reported in, "Sir, Hundred, and First ATI and a support party of two reporting for duty! Sir!"

"At ease," Captain Joseph gestured the men to come closer as he looked up a stack of reports at the tactical tablet. "Come here and take a look."

The men gathered around the table while Joseph said, "High Command has sent you here to find out where and how did the Orcs have gotten hold of guns."

"Now, they told me to give you guys every bit of support that I have, which frankly is pretty stretched now," Joseph looked at everyone as he briefed them. "I only have three combat companies, and one support company stationed here. The locals and ex slaves over number us by at least 20 to 1!"

"We, of course, have the advantage of firearms and we also confiscated every weapon we could find but I am sure we missed plenty," Joseph said. "And I am not sure if you heard, the city is having a stand off between two factions, the local merchants and farmers against the ex slaves."

"And we are stuck in the middle of them, trying to keep the peace and at the same time, fend off any Empire troops that decided to come knocking on our doors," Joseph straightened up. "I can only give you limited manpower support. You will have full material and artillery support which includes the single squadron of Cobras we have here. UAV will also be on your call if you need it."

Tyrier nodded, "Thank you, sir! But I think the most important thing now is what intel we have on the source of the guns?"

"I am sure you all read the preliminary reports on the Orc Revolvers?" Joseph asked. "Well, just as a recap, the weapon is clearly made for Orc hands."

"It's chambered in 20 mm and the recoil can break a person's wrist easily," Joseph said. "The cylinder holds five rounds and is built like a cannon barrel."

"This allows the large caliber shell to fire without breaking the cylinder," Joseph explained. "Now, manufacturing something like this is possible with our knowledge of iron casing, but Orcs are not known to possess such high level metallurgy skills."

"In fact, we found that all the Orc revolvers appeared to be cast from the same mold, meaning someone is mass producing these weapons or someone taught the Orcs how to do it!" Joseph frowned. "This is not good for our campaign here. Should the Empire acquire the knowledge of firearms making, we will lose our advantage despite our weapons being higher quality and efficiency."

"We identified three locations within the Great Ocean Plains where the Planeswalker Clan might be located," Joseph pointed to the map on the table. "We interviewed several merchants coming from the Ocean Plains and this is the best we get."

Tyrier looked at the three dots on the map and said, "There are at least several days walk between each other. Have you send UAVs or recon flights over?"

Joseph shook his head, "The UAV just arrived on one flight before you. The techs just assembled it up and are running checks as we speak on. I expect another hour before they certify the UAV good to fly."

"You got a new vehicle to play with right?" Joseph asked. "I was told that you need to familiarize yourselves before starting the search."

"Yes Sir," Tyrier replied. "We will be working with the ground crew to assemble and learn how to use these motorcycles."

"Woo, cool!" Mills couldn't help exclaim in surprise. "You guys got bikes?"

"Bikes?" Everyone looked at Mills in confusion.

"Haha, we call motorcycles as motorbikes or bikes for short," Mills grinned. "I own one myself!"

"Well that settles it," Joseph pointed to Mills. "Help them learn how to use the bikes."

"Yes, sir!" Mills grinned.

"Welcome to the Sandbox, boys!"

A note from neo Koh

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