UN, City of Haven, Hotel De Locus

Rockets whistled into the skies before popping with eye searing colors as fireworks were set off throughout the city in celebration of the Second Founding Day. Everyone was in high spirits and partied away all night long.

Captain Blake and his wife were dancing on the roof of the Hotel while other guests mingled with each other. They only paused to watch the fireworks display exploding magnificently in the night skies before they resume their slow dance.

"Two weeks is too short..." Sherene complained. "I want a holiday..."

"Hahahaha!" Blake laughed at Sherene's antics. "Duty calls!"

Sherene made an impatient click with her tongue, "Yes... work never ends for us..."

"When all is over," Blake tilted Sherene's chin up and looked deep in her eyes. "I promise you we go for a holiday as long as you want!"

"Promise?" Sherene smiled.

"I promise!" Blake smiled back. "Officer's oath!"

"Alright," Sherene leaned into Blake as they danced slowly. "I heard the rumors from the Isles that the Empire is coming again..."

"Yes," Blake nodded. "Intel has already picked up troop movements within the Empire."

"They are coming here?" Sherene asked. "When?"

"Very likely yes after winter," replied Blake. "We got reports of bulk purchase of supplies of food and weapons from merchants. And we should be the only threat left on this continent other than the Isles."

"When will the war end?" Sherene gave a sad sigh. "It is so silly... Can't we ask for peace?"

"Peace through superior firepower," Blake said in a wise tone before he gave a grin. "Oh we will have peace, but it must be on our terms and to do that, we need to bloody the Emperor's nose so badly, that he will think thrice before ever thinking of waging war against us!"

"But how many will die for that peace?" Sherene asked. "How many must we kill before he is willing to stop the war?"

"Too many to count, my dear," Blake hugged Sherene. "But to protect our people, we must fight..."

"I... understand that, but I do not have to like it!" Sherene frowned. "I was told too that our treasury is low in funds..."

"Ahh, yes," Blake felt embarrassed. "But do not worry, we worked out a deal with the Isles to sell some of our vehicles."

"Hmmm," Sherene gave a thoughtful look to Blake. "Well, we do have all these wedding gifts from the merchants sitting around just looking pretty..."

Blake laughed, "Seriously? You want to sell back the wedding gifts to the very people that gifted them to us for our wedding in the first place?"

"It's just a thought!" Sherene gave a naughty smile. "Hehehe!"


UN, City of Haven, Residential District

"WATTZ!" A high pitch shriek pierced through the dreams of Wattz, making his jerk upright from his bed involuntarily. "GETZ UPZ YA LAZY AZZ!"

Wattz blinked his beady eyes as he stared at his plump green wife in a daze. His wife slammed a pan against his head, knocking him back to his oh so soft and inviting pillows with a loud clank. "GETZ UPZ!"

That smack with the pan finally knock the sleepiness out of his head but left Wattz with a terrible headache instead. He rubbed the egg sized bump starting to form on his head tenderly and hopped off the short legged bed and walked into the toilet.

He stared at the mirror and a green yellow face with a large knob shape nose, two sleepy eye browless beady eyes stared back at him. He turned the tap and splashed water on his face before he did his potty business and went to the kitchen where one of his wives was busy making breakfast.

Both his wives were short, plump and green toned with a mop of hair growing over their oversized heads. One had dark green hair while the other had orange hair. Female goblins generally had hair while males tended to be bald. They both wore an apron over a long tee shirt that almost reached their calves and was busy cooking at the stove.

The smell of burnt toast, eggs, and fat made him salivate as he sat down. His wife banged a plate of brown toast, eggs, and sausages before him. "Eat faz! You late for workz!"

Wattz gave a grin and dug in to his breakfast while his two wives shook their heads at him while he shoved all the greasy contents into his mouth. His wives choose not to argue about his tardiness and instead shooed him out of the kitchen. He quickly donned his work overalls and tool belt before he left the apartment to work at the factory plant.

Wattz took the public bus squeezing together with the other long legs. He had to tiptoe to look out of the windows of the bus to see the scenery outside. He rode in silence and listened to the gossips among the commuters. Most of the talk was about the Wedding between the Hooman Boss and the Princess and Founding Day.

Soon his stop arrived and he hopped out with the rest and headed towards the factory with its tall spires that were belching out thick black smoke.

"WATTZ!" A thunderous yell greeted Wattz when he inserted his punch card into the machine that spat the card out with a rattle. Wattz turned and saw the floor manager stomping over towards him, his hobgoblin face red from either the heat or anger.

"Yez, Manager?" Wattz put on his most innocent face he could. "Whaz can Wattz do for Manager?"

"Do?" The hobgoblin's face scrunched up in and he growled. "You can do well not to come in late again! In fact! You can forget about coming here no more! You fired!"

"Mercy! Boss Manager!" Wattz cried out quickly. "You no fire me! Wattz hard worker!"

"Hard worker my butt!" The Manager cursed. "You late, five times this week! Fired! FIRED!!!"

"But how Wattz supports his two wivez?" Wattz asked in a pitiful voice. "Wattz need credz for food and housing! You no fire me! PLEAZE?"

"OUT!" The Manager growled and pounded his meaty fist into his palm, making a loud smack. "Or I throw you out!"

"Nooo!" Wattz quickly turned and ran out of the factory in despair. "Damn! How Wattz look after wivez? Maybe Wattz divorce?"

He sighed and walked off in low spirits, wondering what should he do next. If he tells his wives, both of them will surely skin him alive for losing his job for the third time this month! "Oh, Machine Gods! Give poor Wattz a sign!"

He paused before a rumbling truck and as the truck rolled off, he was surprised to see a crude statue of a goblin under a shack right across the road from him. Curious, he wandered over to take a closer look and found that the simple shack was filled with many small trinkets and machine parts.

There were even a few rotting carcasses of rodents and animal skulls stacked on the side together with the other junk. Wattz turned his attention to the crude looking statue that appeared to be made out of scrap metal and welded together into a form that kinda looked like a goblin with an oversized right arm. He then noticed a small hand made metal plaque with some scratched words on it and on closer look, his eyes widened in surprise at the written text.

< Here stanz da Greatest Gob Hero Evez! Greg the Great! >

"It's a shrine to Greg!" Wattz was pleasantly surprised. He quickly dug into his tool belt and found a few bits of screws and bolts. He placed them down on top of a piece of unknown machine part as offerings and gave a prayer to the Machine Gods.

"I know!" Wattz suddenly clapped his hands together as inspiration hit him. "I shall join the Air Forz! Like Greg!"


Fortress Singapore, Captain's Quarters

"So, we can expect the Imperials to hit us after winter?" Blake asked.

Lt Tavor nodded and said, "That will be roughly the time table for the Imperials. Currently all intel collected suggests that they are building their stock of food and weapons while their troops gather and training their conscripts."

"So we have four to five months, give or take," said Commander Ford. "Well, I guess it gives us some time to train up the SDF to be at least a competent level for fixed defenses."

Blake nodded. "Good thing now, it's going to be winter, it's a lull time for most traditional farms and business. We can start education classes and training for the new citizens."

"The Marines will be fully trained and equipped with the new rifles and weapons by then," Colonel Frank added. "And once Intel knows where they are planning to hit, we can move our troops to intercept them."

"Thank god we made a deal with the Isles," Ford said. "If not, I wonder how are we going to finance this war..."

Blake gave a grin, "Well, all thanks to you, we have some more money now."

"Shit," Ford sighed. "I just realized this war will drain the military budget away from the Navy..."

"Hahaha!" Everyone laughed at the Chief of Naval Operations' luck.

"Goddamn it!" Ford cursed. "I keep getting the short end of the stick here! I want ships! Aircraft carriers! Battleships! Missile destroyers! AEGIS Cruisers! Arghhh!"

"Sorry, Ford," Blake smiled. "This year Santa lost your wish list!"

Everyone laughed again and Ford gave up, "I think at this rate, my position will be some empty title..."

"Relax," Blake reassured Ford. "Now is not the time to expand the Navy yet. Once we deal with the Empire and have peace, we will focus on exploration. That's when the Navy will come in."

"True," Ford nodded before he turned to the Intel Officer. "So what are the estimated numbers we are looking at?"

"So far, we have some intel of the troops being pulled out of garrisons," Tavor replied. "Their insignia looks like the Imperial Army which is the Emperor's main standing army. We had yet to find out how many auxiliary troops will be raised by the Empire's nobles nor what air assets they will be bringing over as of yet."

"My agents are still doing their best to collect information," Tavor explained. "Problem is there's a time lag between each agent and also, our intelligence network is still pretty new and limited."

"Once we pinpoint the location of their staging area, we can start to estimate the total number of soldiers," Tavor said. "But we identified roughly two approaches that they might attack from."

Tavor pointed to the map, tapping at Falledge first before he tapped at another area roughly 50 km, west, away from Orwell's Point. "These two."

"Falledge originally is the gateway into the Uncharted Forest, which our old friend, Duke Sturm, used as a staging area," Tavor said. "And this point here is also another way into the Uncharted Forest."

"Unless they plan to attack Orwell's Point," Tavor traced his finger on the map. "The terrain here is most suited for marching troops."

Blake nodded, "Okay, keep collecting as much information as possible. I want to know the enemy's total strength, fighting powers, and air assets."

"For the military side," Blake turned to Colonel Frank. "Start the SDF problem now. Recruit anyone interested and train them at Camp Alpha. They need not be trained to the level of the Marines but at least trained in the same tactics."

"Tommy," Blake addressed the Air Force Commander. "Work out a plan to provide air supremacy and support for the ground forces. Also, start looking for a new place to construct a new airbase to support Falledge."

"Chief Matt," Blake said lastly to the Engineer. "Get the factories into war footing. Prioritize all military needs first. I want every Marine to be armed with the latest rifles before mid winter and all prototypes weapons to be running and tested."

"And the highway to Orwell's Point must be completed before the end of winter!" Blake said. "I also want a permanent road or highway to Falledge once construction of the North East Highway is completed."

"Gentlemen, we might have a season to prepare, but still, we are running against the clock now," Blake said to everyone. "We need to ensure we have everything we need to fight and protect what we have now. Everyone clear with their duties?"


A note from neo Koh

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