Out of Space

by

neo Koh

268 - The Snake, the Empire, and the Hoomans

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Fora, Grand Palace, Capital of Kingdom of Foral

A soldier in clad in black armor ran across the sleek tiles of the Grand Palace. His cloak billowed behind him as his mail boots clanked loudly, echoing throughout the empty hallways. He paused before an open doorway and knelt down, "Lord Rock!"

The man who conquered the Two Nation Alliance stood with his back facing the soldier with his hands clasped behind his back. He dressed in a simple grey tunic and pants with a long sword on his side while his normally worn armor was arranged neatly on a side table.

He turned away from the view of the captured city and gestured the soldier in as he took a seat on the table. "What news do you bring?"

The soldier had a yellow messenger sash across his chest stood up and handed over several rolled up parchments from his scroll case. He gave a salute and exited the room, closing the door behind him but staying outside the room as he waited for his Lord to finish the reports and in case there was a need for an urgent reply.

The Rock picked up the scrolls tied secured by colorful ribbons, with each color determining the urgency and content of the reports. Blue and green for non urgent daily reports of the military and civic side, yellow for petitions, and red and yellow for urgent military and civic matters, respectively.

He saw the startling blood red ribbon in the midst of the usual blue and green ribbons and he quickly ripped the red ribbon off and broke the wax seal. He reread through the scroll a few times and frowned before he called out to the messenger waiting outside. "Messenger!"

"Yes, my Lord?" The soldier who delivered the reports entered the room again and knelt down.

"Take this!" The Rock tossed a silver amulet that he carried on his belt. "Pass the order to the Black Scorpions to prepare for war! Tell all the commanders to meet me in the Great Hall by the turn of the glass!"

"Yes, my Lord!" The messenger caught the amulet and quickly left to carry out his orders.

The Rock stood up and walked back to the balcony and glanced out to the smoking city and wondered who had the balls to attack and invade one of the Empire's city!

-----

Dead Frontier, Great Ocean Plains

Taris watched yet another group of refugees setting up camp at the outskirts of the village stockade next to several other large clusters of tents and wagons that had sprouted up since he returned from his trip to the trade city.

Beyond the rising tent city, were cleared fields that were being tilled by both physical and magical means. The soil was poor and thin in the surrounding areas and the water not easily available but luckily, there were plenty of soldiers of the Last Company that knew some basic water spells from their years of fighting on the field.

Those soldiers now wandered around the tilled field and cast water spells to irrigate the land while others sowed the land with the seeds bartered back.

"Taris," A deep gruff voice called out and Taris saw the bear like Captain of the Last Company walking up next to him. "More refugees?"

Taris nodded, "It's getting worse by the day! We do not have enough food for everyone! Even with the seeds we have gotten, I don't think we can support so many people when winter comes!"

"There have been some scuffles among the refugees already," Taris reported. "We are barely able to keep the peace now and many families are begging us for food and water."

Borse's expression hardened before he jerked his head towards another group of people who had their own guards and richer looking tents and wagons. "Who are they?"

"Looks like some merchants and nobles from Foral with their families and guards," Taris replied.

"What is in those wagons?" Borse asked again.

"Not sure," Taris shrugged. "They did not allow us to check their cargo and we did not push them."

"Did they ask you all for food?" Borse's eyes narrowed as he stared at the dozens of covered wagons parked in the middle of the camp.

"Now that you asked," Taris frowned, "No, I don't think so, I need to check with our quartermaster on it."

"Call him over," Borse said before he sat down on the wooden steps as he waited for Taris to return with Company's Quartermaster.

Not long, an old man lead by Taris came back. "My Lord," The balding quartermaster bowed as he stood before his captain.

"What is our food situation now?" Borse asked immediately, ignoring the pleasantries.

"Not counting the need for the refugees, we have enough to last till harvest of the newly planted crops," The old man said. "As long as the yield of our first harvest isn't too low and the hunters bring back meat regularly, we can get past this year's winter comfortably."

"But our stocks of salt is low, so we can't preserve a lot of meat," The quartermaster rubbed his chin as he squirmed his eyes over his thick pile of ledgers that he brought along. "It will be good if we can send another trade caravan off to get more food back, especially with the number of refugees piling up at our doorsteps..."

Borse nodded before asking, "Did those people there ask for any food?"

The quartermaster narrowed his eyes as he peered at the group pointed out by the Captain and replied, "I do not recall them ever asking for anything..."

"Got it," Borse nodded again. "Go back to your work."

"Yes, my Lord," The quartermaster saluted and walked off carrying along with his thick ledgers.

"How long have they camped?" Borse asked Taris.

"More than a week?" Taris replied. "They were here when I returned three days ago..."

"Bring some troops along," Borse suddenly said. "I want to see what is inside those covered wagons!"

Taris grinned and gave a mock salute and called out to the guards at the gate and before long, a hundred man leader came up and saluted to them both. "My lords! My men are ready for your orders!"

"Good," Borse gestured him and his men to follow him as he set off towards the camp outside.

The merchant guards and house guards of the nobles could barely even stop him and his men as the soldiers spread out to block the guards, leaving Borse, Taris and a handful of escorts to enter the merchant camp undisturbed.

They walked right up to the covered wagons in the middle of the camp, while dozens of people of all ages in rich clothing eyed them in confusion and loathe.

They ignored the stares and whispers and stood before one of the covered wagons were a couple of guards tried to stop them but frozen under the intense glare from the veteran soldiers. The guards could only run off to inform their superiors as they did not dare to stop the soldiers.

Borse gestured to his men who pulled off the back cover of the wagons and they found crates and barrels of food supply.

His face darkened as the soldiers checked the cargo in another wagon and found more supplies of dried fruits, flour grain, salted meat, and other kinds of food preserved in oil. Taris whistled as he took a quick peek at the other wagons.

Mentally he calculated the amount of food here in these twenty wagons are more than enough to feed a few hundred people for at least a month! Taris gave Borse a silent nod as he hopped off the last wagon.

Borse nodded back and turned to one of his men and ordered him to bring more soldiers over. They will seize these wagons to feed the people!

"You!" A sudden cry came from several well dressed men who came rushing over with dozens of guards. "What are you trying to do?!"

"Are you the leader of this camp?" Borse asked as the angry looked men stood before him.

"Yes!" The red faced merchant cried out. "Get out of my camp!"

The guards behind the merchant grasped their weapons tightly as they stared down at the soldiers.

"You know..." Borse replied calmly. "This area is under my control?"

"You bandits!" The merchants cried out. "You want to steal our stuff!"

Taris giggled and gave a low bow, "You are speaking to the Lord of Dead Frontier..."

The merchants paused in their ranting and quietened down, while the red faced merchant quickly changed his tone. "Oh! My lord! My mistake! Many apologies! My mistake!"

Borse grunted and pointed to the wagons, "I want all of them!"

The merchants paled and looked at each other, "But my lord! Those are our supplies!"

Taris shook his head in mock sadness at the merchants' reactions, "Not anymore!"

-----

The Isles, Council of the Masters

The five Fleet Masters sat on the round table with solemn expressions on their faces, even the normally chatty Megan was subdued.

"Is this information accurate?" The First Fleet Master asked softly at the messenger.

"Yes, Fleet Master!" The messenger replied. "It came by priority wyvern!"

The First Fleet Master nodded and dismissed the messenger before turning his attention to the other four who all had taken turns to read the delivered parchment.

"Sightings of a giant snake that is over two hundred feet long?" Megan finally broke the silence. "Where can such a monster come from?"

"From the information given, it seemed to appear out of nowhere in that city called Sin..." The scholarly Akron spoke up. "And that city was destroyed in one night..."

"We need to take measures!" Dijon roared as he hammered both his fists on the table top. "Even if we are separated by a barrier of water, if that Thing swims over..."

Megan snorted, "That is the least of our problems now!"

She gestured to the map on the round table and said, "The Two Alliance has fallen and effectively, the Empire is now the sole power controlling the whole continent!"

"We need to take steps to prevent the Empire from swallowing us up!" Megan said.

Dijon calmed down as he heard Megan words, "True, but those hoomans... They are strong too!"

"Ultimately, can a city fight against a whole continent?" Megan asked. "We should instead focus on getting the arcane arts from the hoomans to strengthen our military!"

The Fleet Masters started to debate among themselves as the First Fleet Master watched and listen on. They continued to discuss till late what course of actions they have to take against the Empire, the Snake, and the Hoomans.

-----

Orwell's Point, Marine Command

"A total of five hundred and fifty thousand 6.8 mm rounds, five hundred thousand .50 cal, and four hundred and fifty thousand 8.6 mm for the MGs. A hundred spare M1 Magelocks, forty MG - 1, ten .50 caliber machine guns, twenty RPG - 1, ten 120 mm mortar tubes and 4 3" guns." The Quartermaster of the 2nd Battalion reported. "Another two hundred rounds of HEAT rockets for the RPGs, three hundred 120 mm HE mortar shells and three hundred HE 3" shells are also delivered."

"We also took over ten heavy hauler trucks, eight half tracks, and twelve jeeps for use for 2nd Battalion," The Quartermaster continued. "Also another ten tons of Dragonite fuel for the vehicles."

"Got it," Joseph nodded.

"Sir!" A boyish Lieutenant dress in a one piece dark green jumpsuit stood up and saluted in the meeting room. "1st Armored reporting for duty, Sir!"

Joseph's eyebrows rosed up as he saw the two golems crouching outside the city walls. Their low slung and sleek lines made them looked predatory and the amount of firepower each possessed was enough to destroy an entire steel and shield army by its self.

He returned the salute of the Lieutenant and gave a smile, knowing that their chances against the Snake and the Empire just went up by a large factor.

"Lieutenant, welcome to Orwell's Point. I am very certain you and your boys will be very well appreciated here!"

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