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Orwell's Point, Northen Border

Mills slapped the side of his neck and wiped the slimy remains of a bug off against his sweat and mud caked uniform. He used his boots to push away a curious little blue slime in his path and turned back to find their high value prisoner riding on one of the captured land dragon staring daggers at him.

If looks could kill, she probably killed him a dozen times over. He sighed and waited till the mount carrying the prisoner came up next to him and he took over the reins from her escort. "Wonderful day isn't it, my Lady?"

Titanna hmphed and turned her head away from him. She felt sore all over her body, especially her wounds. She was dirty and tired, wearing the same dress for days and only could wipe down her body with a wet towel.

Even both her maids following her on foot were also not doing so well with the forced march through the forest.

Yet, Titanna was impressed with the discipline of these Barbarians soldiers. Despite hearing some grumbles here and there, the way they move through the forest spoke a great deal of their training and experience!

These Barbarians must have grown up in the forest and must have trained together since young as their coordination and skills in the woods were top notched. She had taken part in training her men before and knew that it takes almost forever to get the men to be able to work independently and yet together at the same time!

A proper arms man would take years to train, from wielding a spear to a sword and shield to fighting in a formation. A cavalryman would also need to learn how to ride a land dragon, and how to fight on a moving mount.

Even the conscripted peasants will take some months to at least learn how to wield a spear and stay in a formation to fight properly.

But looking at the way these men move and orders being transmitted barely without a word and only by hand signs, her judgment was that this was a group of crack troops! Not to mention each soldier was armed with those strange thunder artifacts and barely a hundred men had routed her force of over ten thousand!

"Do you want to ride in the carriage?" He asked. "You don't look so well."

"No!" She snapped and urged her mount faster, her hands tied to the horn of the saddle while an anti magic collar was worn around her neck.

Mills glanced at her regal looking bearing despite the fatigue on her face and shook his head. Wondering why women must be so headstrong at times.

They were supposed to ride back in luxury on the river barges but there were sightings of enemy dragons that probably were the reinforcements to the routed army.

Their Cobra air cover had been withdrawn and reassigned to defend against the God Snake hence the Lieutenant ordered everyone off the ships and make the trek on foot back to Orwell's Point.

Over the course of three days through the thick forest, they encountered several monsters that they beat off and the meat from those creatures was a welcome addition to the cooking pots.

He turned to the prisoner and asked, "Say, why do you fight in wars?"

Titanna looked down at the strange short eared Barbarian, "Of course it is for the glory of the Rothschild family!"

"Do you do anything that does not involve the name of your family?" Mills asked as he carefully led the mount around a tree root.

"Of course!" Titanna snapped, wondering what trick question was that. "I do many things that do not involve my family!"

"What I meant is do you have any goals of your own?" Mills questioned. "Like dreams of your own?"

"I d-" Titanna stopped, as she wondered about the question. "I do want to beat that upstart mage and take the top place!"

"Yes, now we are getting somewhere without constantly hearing about your family name!" Mills grinned.

"But taking the top place bring glory to the Rothschild!" Titanna frowned.

"Arghhhh!"

-----

UNS Singapore, Captain Quarters

Blake scrolled through the reports on the aftermath of Operation Pied Piper. Finally finishing the report he looked up at Commander Ford who was reading the same report. "Well, at least now we have one less worry here."

"Yes, but there is something here that doesn't add up," Ford frowned as he scrolled the report on his tablet. "We are missing one confirmed kill for the traitors."

"Really?" Blake looked back on the reports. "We got the video feed of the five in the room, the ex Marine Sergeant turning into the Snake, one was reported to be blown up in the factory and the other out in the plains from MAW Unit Zero Two."

"Everyone is accounted for..." Blake paused. "Wait... Who was the one in the factory?"

"Spaceman Apprentice Leung, Chun-Kok, born 2109, New Territories, Hong Kong. Maintainance and Operations," Major Frank answered. "His body is the only one no one was able to visibly tally with."

"And judging from the way those idiots gave their souls," Ford gave a cough at the word souls. "They were granted supernatural regeneration capabilities. The bombs might not be enough to kill him unless he took a direct hit..."

"True..." Blake frowned. "Shit... if that is the case, even if we banished the God Snake back to wherever it came from... It still has a link to this place via Leung if he is still alive..."

"Sir, I propose we send a Company down to Sin City and see what we can find," Major Frank suggested. "I am worried that we might have missed something..."

Blake nodded and gestured towards Captain Joseph on the screen. "Okay. See what men you can spare without lowering the defenses of Orwell's Point. Go dig around Sin City, see if you can find anything."

"Yes, Sir!" Joseph's image replied crisply.

"How are our stocks of munitions?" Blake changed the topic, looking at their short quartermaster.

"We have more than adequate small arms munitions, but any special munitions like napalm were all out," Quartermaster Chen reported. "Fighting that Thing wiped out all two months of napalm production, we need to reproduce everything..."

"How about the 3" shells and 120 mm mortars?" Blake asked. "Does Orwell's Point has enough munitions and supplies?"

"Orwell's Point needs more 120 mm mortars, we used up almost 80% of their stockpile while we still have enough 3" shells to last for a while, even the 250 kg bombs are enough for the planes for now," Joseph replied. "And the Mariners are back on full time supply runs."

"For food and fuel supplies, we have a stockpile of two months," Joseph continued. "We do need more small arms ammunition if we are preparing to be under siege."

"Got it," Quartermaster Chen replied as he took down notes on the side.

"On our side, we have a healthy stock for our 3" guns, mortars, and 70 mm rockets," Chen continued. "Small arms ammunition production is more than enough for all our needs too."

"The production lines are being retooled to push out the new 88 mm and 155 mm designed guns," Chen added. "We expect to see them on the field within a month."

"Good, more firepower is always welcomed!" Major Frank grinned. "With the 155 mm howitzers, we can literally hit any target we want within a twelve kilometer radius!"

"Airforce?" Blake asked next. "What is the latest on the projects on your side, Tommy?"

"We started recruitment for a new batch of pilots among the eighteen to twenty years old population," Commander Tommy replied. "The requirements for this new batch of pilots won't be as strict as they are gonna be fixed rotor aircraft pilots, I will be personally interviewing the applicants."

"Navy?" Blake turned to his Chief of Naval Operations, Commander Ford.

"We are pushing out a new Corvette design," Ford grinned. "It's going to be a larger variant of the PT boats but more heavily armored, crewed, and will be armed with new 88 mm guns Ordinance is going to push out."

"And we are shipping a couple of stripped down PT boats forward to Orwell's Point with the next land convoy over," Ford added. "The PT boats will be very useful in defending and patrolling the river there."

Blake nodded. "Princess? How about your side?"

"Total basic literacy levels have gone up by 40%," Princess Sherene reported. "Overall happiness of the population is actually pretty high."

"Demands for work and especially in the factories has also gone up, while people applying to study more advanced courses has gone down," She added. "It would appear that not many are willing to spend more time advancing their studies after they completed their basic education and required subjects before starting to look for work."

"Sir, this is quite worrying, as our current workers barely hold the minimum amount of knowledge to work the machines and factories," Chief Engineer Matt spoke out. "All our current labor only has the experience but not the advanced technical knowledge to further improve our industries."

"If this goes on, our tech level will stagnant and if worse, deteriorate..." Matt warned. "We need to boost people's tech knowledge more."

"Princess," Blake rubbed his chin. "Get your people to work out a plan on how to attract the population to improve their knowledge more, give them incentives, grants, scholarships, anything. People are very valuable resources."

Sherene nodded and she quickly scribbled something down on her notepad.

"Now for the prisoners we taken from Orwell's Point and Sin City," Blake turned to his Intel Officer. "What do you have for us?"

"We have some information here and there," Lieutenant Tavor replied. "Orwell's Point's former Governor is pretty tight lipped so far, but he did give up a few hidden caches of his wealth that he squirreled away."

"Also we have some more inking of the forces around Orwell's Point and the Rothschild family which appeared to be in control of these parts," Tavor said. "The family has its roots as far as the original sailors and soldiers that landed here."

"They control the Southern portion of the New Land, and previously, that Duke Sturm that chased the remnants of Goldrose into the pass was also under the Rothschild family," Tavor added. "Head of the family is a man know as Moel Rothschild, roughly in his late forties."

"He is said to be very focus and ruthless," Tavor looked up from his tablet. "He is also known to be bad tempered and do not forget a grudge easily."

"So basically, he's a gangster?" Ford commented.

"He has three biological sons and one daughter," Tavor ignored Ford's comment. "He also has four illegitimate sons, all of which is around the age of twenty to twenty five, while the youngest at the age of eleven."

"And just recently, 2nd Battalion, Falcon Company has taken the only daughter of Moel Rothschild as a prisoner of war..." Tavor ignored Ford's comment.

"Oh, shit..." Ford sighed. "Did we just pissed off another warlord?"

"On the matter of that," Tavor continued, "Moel Rothschild cares a lot of his family pride, so the taking of his daughter as a prisoner of war will definitely not go well with his temper."

"We can expect lots of heavy demands and threats on the return of his daughter," Tavor gave his assessment. "It will be a pride thing for this man, and he will not stop even if we give in to his demands."

"Hmmm..." Blake frowned. "So you are saying even if we return his daughter back safe and sound, and peace deals we worked with him will be conveniently forgotten?"

"Yes, Sir," Tavor simply replied. "Recommended course of action is not to deal at all with the Rothschilds. Hold the daughter in custody and bled the Rothschilds dry."

"Do not trust any word of a Rothschild!"

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Sorry for the late release. Had a fever and chest pains over the week...


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