UNS Singapore, Captain's Quarters
"- lost one of the FB - 1 Mariners, all three crew onboard currently listed as KIA or MIA..." The image of Airforce Commander Tommy said. "We are now down to four Mariners in the entire bomber fleet."
Blake nodded without a word and turned to the images of Joseph, Dr. Sharon, and Magister Thorn before said, "Any idea what we are dealing with?"
"Well, we looked through the whatever clues and testimonies of the insertion team and could only come out with a couple of guesses," Dr. Sharon spoke.
"We thought at first it could be Quetzalcoatl from the Aztecs since the last encounter we had was with an Aztec God, but Quetzalcoatl's name translated to, as 'feathered serpent', which clearly none of its traits are showing here." She gestured to the video of the burning snake.
"Next we look at the other myths and the suspected God we dealing with here could either be Apophis of Egyptian origin or the Nidhogg from Norse mythology." She continued next. "As of now we still are not very sure which God we are really dealing with till we have more information."
"Got it, Doc, thanks," Blake thanked her for her hard work. "Now, what do we have on the situation with the locals?" He directed to Joseph next.
"Sir, we are still in the midst of getting them to work together peacefully," Joseph said. "As for the leaders of the ex slaves who are plotting mischief, we had already detained all of them and replaced them with other people more pro to our cause."
"Good," Blake nodded. "Any movement from the Empire?"
"We are seeing a serious build-up of forces at the nearest city to Orwell's Point, I suspect another week before they sail down the river or march towards us," Joseph replied. "The two companies from 3rd Battalion are a welcome reinforcement and with light armored vehicles and the two spider tanks, we are more capable enough to hold off the Empire when they bring their forces down."
"But, we will not be able to evacuate everyone if the God Snake heads our way," Joseph said. "There is nowhere to hide in the open Plains and even if the evacuees made it to the cover of the Uncharted Forest, they will be easy pickings for the monsters that inhabit the forest."
"Nor can we sail up the river, as that is as good as delivering them to the Empire," Joesph said.
"Yes, well, General Staff has proposed another plan instead," Blake said. "They want you to build underground concrete bunkers."
"Underground bunkers?" Joseph frowned. "Do we have that much time?"
"Well, if we use conventional means to dig, no," Blake said frankly. "But General Staff has sent an expert along with materials for the construction with the convoy, and she will handle the digging."
"She eh?" Joseph grinned, "It's that earth elementalist witch, eh?"
Blake nodded. "Yes, with her help, you can easily shore up any defensive works and also enough underground shelters for the whole population of the city."
"Great, now at least that's one worry off my mind," Joseph said.
"What about the cults?" Blake asked. "Any new intel?"
"We managed to a successful raid just the other night," Joseph answered. "We managed to grab a few high level cultists and are still interrogating them."
"They are pretty tight lipped but give me a few more days," Joseph gave a wicked smile, "I am sure to make them sing sweetly like a song wyvern!"
"Do what you need to," Blake ordered. "Now the bombers have done their part and bought everyone more time with that Thing... I heard you approved another strike on that thing again?"
"Yes, Sir!" Joseph nodded. "We are waiting for the Snake to think it's safe before dropping the remaining bombs we have on it in the day."
"After that, we will need to send the bombers back to Haven for resupplies, we only have so many bombs in store," Joseph said. "We hope to injure it more and keep it on its toes!"
"Good initiative, keep it up," Blake smiled. "Well, once the transport plane program has cleared, you will have dedicated heavy lift cargo plane which will greatly reduce your supply problems."
"I will look forward to it, Sir!" Joseph smiled back.
"Alright, thank you for your time," Blake nodded to everyone. "Dismissed!"
Orwell's Point, Operations Command
"Well, that went well," Dr. Sharon sighed as she rotated her tired shoulders. "I am gonna catch some sleep, if it isn't important, don't wake me up!"
With that, she disappeared from the Ops room, leaving behind Magister Thorn and Joseph. "Well, what are your plans today?" Joseph asked.
"Hmmm, I will be appraising the items the soldiers confiscated from the cultist hideout," Thorn replied. "You?"
"I guess I'll be interviewing the cultists we arrested down in the dungeons," Joseph said. "Want to join me?"
"Hmmm..." Thorn frowned as he did not like to see torture. "No, there is only so much time and so many questions..."
"Ha!" Joseph barked out a laugh, "You are still the same old friend."
Thorn smiled and gave a small bow before he too left the room. Joseph sighed and left the room before heading towards the dungeons of the stronghold.
When they first captured the city's main keep, the dungeons were filled almost to the brim, hundreds kept in unappealing conditions, piss and fecal matter staining the stone walls and floors. The stench and conditions were so bad that Joseph had half a mind to order in a couple of flamers and torch the whole place up.
Now the conditions were better, even if the stone cells remained the same, at least the stench was gone with the walls and floor scrubbed clean by law breakers. He found that the idea of punishing offenders with 'social work' was actually quite ingenious, forcing them to do hard work that nobody wants to do.
Now the gloomy place was cleaned up nicely and with repeat offenders at an all time low, Joseph walked towards the end of the dungeon where a barred door sat. Two Marines straightened to attention as he approached and unlocked the well oiled lock of the gate.
He went down a flight of stairs lit by a smoky torch set at regular intervals on the wall and reached the bottom and into a square room. A trio of Marines sat around a table against the corner of the room stood up in attention as he entered. One of them quickly unlocked the only wooden iron reinforced door and he entered a dimly lit corridor.
This area was the deepest part of the Keep, where condemned prisoners or prisoners with overwhelming strength were locked up. He briefly glanced over the runes and array formations carved all over the surfaces of the walls of the cells and came up to one of the eight cast iron doors.
He banged hard against the thick rusty stained door and the door swung opened by one of the largest and nastiest looking Orc Marine Joseph had ever seen. The Orc gave a casual salute and stood back, his sleeves had been ripped at the shoulders as his biceps were too large to fit through the sleeves and he stood at parade rest by the door.
Another Orc similarily dressed in the non regulation ripped uniform stood at attention next to a naked hooded prisoner in the middle of the cell.
The hooded prisoner was drenched and sat gasping for air while fully restrained to a chair that was upturned with the prisoner laying on his back facing the ceiling under a puddle of water. A couple of hooman made light lamps sat on each corner of the room, brightly lighting the room up.
Joseph nodded to the Orc next to the prisoner who set the naked prisoner and the chair upright again before pulling the soaked hood off. The prisoner immediately sucked several deep breathes of air while squirming his eyes in the sudden light. "Name!" The Orc growled dangerously.
"Le- Lector.. Lector... of... Galestone... village..." The heavily trembling prisoner gasped out.
"Tell me, Lector," Joseph dragged a chair over from the side. The legs of the chair made a scraping sound that made the prisoner flinch in fear. "What is it that you... desire?"
"I... I just want to live!" The prisoner cried out, "Please! Lords! don't kill meeee!"
"Good, good," Joseph nodded to himself. "Tell me about yourself?"
The frightened prisoner quickly babbled out his life, from working in the fields to making a living as a clerk with a merchant.
"I got a question for you. Why a young man with a promising future such as yourself, joins a cult?" Joseph asked after the prisoner ended his babbling.
"I- I don't know they were a cult!" The young man cried out. "They told me that they... they are looking to recruit... loy- loyalists..."
He stammered to an end after that in fear. "I... I was stupid! I am sorry! I will never revolt or fight against you Lords ever! I swear upon my life!!"
Joseph shook his head, "Lector, Lector, I assume that is your real name?" He suddenly wrenched the hand of the prisoner, twitching the palm over and continued, "I have never seen a farmer which such nice skin nor a clerk without ink under his nails..."
"No! N-" The prisoner thrashed in his restraints as Joseph jerked his head at the Orc Marine who stood over the prisoner and slipped the wet hood over his head again. He kicked the legs of the chair over, sending the prisoner in the chair toppling over on its back.
Next, he picked up the barrel of water while the other Orc crouched next to the prisoner and held him down while the barrel of water was slowly poured over the hood of the prisoner, causing him to thrash wildly against the restraints.
Joseph sat cross legged on his chair without any changes in his expression as he watched the waterboarding torture of the prisoner while occasionally looking at his wristwatch. This method of interrogation was taught to him by the hooman Intelligence Officer, Lieutenant Tavor.
He admitted it was actually pretty useful so far, but he knew that confessions under torture barely counts for any use. But it didn't really matter as in this case, he has five more other prisoners to tally the information given up.
He checked his watch and nodded, "Enough, let him up."
The Orc Marines lifted the prisoner back up to a sitting position before ripping off the cloth hood. The young man called, Lector coughed and vomited out water and snot with tears in his eyes. Joseph watched the eyes of the young man carefully, catching a glimpse of pure hatred in them and he nodded to his Marines again.
The process was repeated twice and finally, a hint of fear was present in the young man's eyes. "So now, what is your name?" Joseph asked again.
"A- Alden... Si- Silvaton..." The young man gasped for air, his face turning red and eyes bloodshot from the suffocation torture.
"Now, we are finally on the correct page," Joseph smiled. "So, Mr. Silvation... I assume you have some noble blood in you?"
The young man kept his head down as he shivered in the cold and pain. "Y-yes..."
"Judging by your appearance, you don't look local either," Joseph said. "Where are you truly from?"
"Nor- Norshelm..." The young man replied. "The river city..."
"Norshelm... Norshelm..." Joseph rubbed his chin as the city was the next closest city by the river to Orwell's Point and also the city where the Empire was gathering its forces to attacking them.
"Well, Mr. Silvaton, if you wish to not to be subjected to more water," Joseph stood before the young man and jerked his chin up, staring at the fearful eyes of the young noble. "Tell me everything, the cult, Norshelm, everything!"
"To live or die? Tell the truth and live, but if you tell a lie, we can make you die... just harder!"