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Source Sea, Imperial Grand Fleet

The Admiral stood on the top deck, viewing the action of the dragons and the two five ship squadrons of frigates sneaking towards the rebel's ship with a frown on his face. Through the use of a far sight spell, he could clearly see the lightweight dragons were dropping like flies from the defensive weapons of the rebels.

His Grand Fleet had a total of eight dragon ships, each dragon ships could pack a total of either twenty light weights, eight medium weights, or two heavy weight dragons and their supply of food and crew.

He had six of his dragon ships carrying light weights and one ship each for the medium weights and heavy weight dragons for a total of hundred and sixty light weight dragons, eight medium weights and two heavies along side his thirty six ship fleet of almost eighteen thousand sailors and soldiers.

Yet, despite this formidable force, it was stopped by a single vessel of the rebels. His Grand Fleet could not advance without destroying or capturing the rebel vessel which single handedly razed down five frigates and dozens of dragons without any signs of damage.

"Send in the Fifth Heavy Frigate Squadron!" He commanded. Seconds later, a series of drums and horns sounded and the Fifth Heavy Frigate Squadron responded by returning the bellowing of horns and the unfurling of their sails.

The three ships of the Fifth Heavy had battering rams equipped at the bows of the ships. Teams of slaves manned the oars while the ship mages threw wind spells against the sails, propelling the ships forward across the water surface rapidly.

"Captain!" The lookout on the mast yelled out suddenly. "Look! Flying demons!"

Everyone jerked their heads up to the direction the lookout called and saw several dots in the skies growing larger by the second. The Admiral turned to his staff and ordered. "Release the rest of the dragons! Fend those flying demons off!"

Another series of horns and drums were sounded and the dragon ships at the rear slowly responded to the commands. The dragon ships of the Imperials were huge, almost twice the size of the Admiral's flagship. It had a series of cage like structure on the decks that were almost to the waterline and a rib like cranes that ran along the middle of the ship facing outwards.

Inside each cage, housed a dragon and the rib like cranes winched open the top of the cages and the dragons with their crews on board leaped into skies and took off in a charge, straight at the approaching flying demons.

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Source Sea, Dagger Flight

"Dagger Lead to all Daggers," The lead pilot of the squadron of F/A - 1C 'Super Cobra' gunned his throttle to the max as he spotted a burst of activity among the Imperials ships. The older Cobras had their engines replaced with a newer more powerful engine while their airframes were reinforced. "Break and engage hostiles!"

Long leathery wings erupted out from the Imperial ships like monster bats from hell and the supped up fighters of the UN 10th Fighter Wing operating out of Orwell's Point split into pairs and the skies turned to chaos as beasts and machines fought for supremacy.

The upgraded Super Cobras proved to be a very efficient dragon hunter, as it had both the speed and agility to outfly the Imperial dragons. Their 20 mm gun pods ripped the light weight dragons apart easily while the weapons of the Imperial barely had any chance to score any damage to the agile biplanes.

"O Point to all fighter wings, protect UNS Dragon Roost at all cost! Dagger Flight to escort UNS Dragon Roost, the rest own time own targets!"

"Dagger Lead, roger!"
"Knight Lead, roger!"
"Silver Lead, roger!"

"Dagger Flight, form up over UNS Dragon Roost! Protect the ship!" The lead pilot ordered and he looped his fighter over the besieged ship. There were several grey green dragons swooped all over the ship and aimed his fighter straight at one of the dragons that were pulling away from the sky after its dive attack.

He kept his crosshairs in front of the target and squeezed the trigger, sending a short burst of 20 mm shells downrange before his flight speed overtook the target and he had to pull his fighter up. He leaned back and saw the broken dragon doing a small cartwheel among the waves before disappearing under the water.

"Dagger Lead to all Daggers! Keep rid of all the Imperial dragons around the UNS Dragon Roost!"

-----

Source Sea, UNS Dragon Roost

Lieutenant Tallie nervously watched the approaching Imperial ships that looked larger than the rest of the ships encircling them and he turned to yell at his bridge crew. "Get the UNS Rider to tow us away from the enemy!"

Tallie was referring to the PT Boat turned ferry for the crew. "Raise the anchors! Those new approaching ships look like trouble!"

The small boat crew braved the raining projectiles and quickly started up the engines of the ferry. The barriers keeping the small boat raised up and allowed the boat to scoot out into the open waters. A tow line secured the boat to the floating dock stretched tautly and a cloud of dirty smoke erupted out from the engines as the boat crew gunned the engines to the max.

The floating dock groaned as the ferry's engines strained to pull the whole dock along. Lt Tallie turned to his crew and yelled again, "Get the UNS Killer to add another tow line!"

He turned and looked back at the fast approaching Imperial ships, spotting a suspicious wake before the ships. "Oh shit! They have battering rams!"

"Tell all guns to engage those ships immediately!" He roared. "Destroy those ships!"

-----

Falledge, Some back alley in the Merchant District

"Pssh," A cloaked figure hissed from the shadows at a potty figure with two hulking guards beside him. "Over here!"

The potty figure gingerly walked over the filth that covered the back alley and came before a person whose face was covered by a low hood. "You got the goods?"

"Yes," The hooded figure nodded. "You? The gold?"

"Here," The merchant gestured to his man who held out a bag and shook it, letting the coins inside jiggle.

The hooded figure nodded and he furtively glanced around their surroundings before he picked up a long object rolled up in an oilcloth. "Here!"

The merchant took the object was surprised by its weight. He gave it a heft before ripping the oilcloth away and reveal a long metal barrel with a wood stock at the end. "Is this the thunder stick... called a 'rifle'?"

The hooded figure nodded and held out his hand. The merchant gestured to his man who dropped the bag of coins into his palm and the hooded figure quickly ran off. The merchant ignored the seller and posed with the rifle in his hands. He mimicked the actions he saw of the soldiers doing with the weapon and was quite impressed with the workmanship.

Now, it was time for him to make a killing at the auction houses!

-----

UN Northern Front Command HQ

Colonel Frank glanced around at his gathered commanders, those not physically able to attend were instead using video conferencing from their respective command posts along the Northern Front. "So far, the Imperials had done us a small favour, which is splitting their troops in to smaller contingents."

"There's good and there's bad to it," Frank said. "Good means they couldn't muster to their strength of numbers to break our fortified positions, but bad means they can slip troops through our Northern Front as we do not have the numbers to cover everywhere."

Captain Joseph's image nodded. "Yes, Sir, but we can filter the worse off, and let the SDF settle any leakers."

"Hell, this is our home ground," Joseph added. "If they can sneak past our defences, let them!"

"We have the Uncharted Forest to act as a natural deterring force," Joseph grinned. "Unlike us, who we have mapped much of the Forest and now have working comms inside the Forest, the Imperials will be lost and the denizens of the Forest will do the rest for us too!"

The rest of the Battalions' COs nodded in agreement, "That's right!"

"So our plan is to allow the Imperials to leak into the Forest?" Frank asked.

"We can control the number of Imperials flowing into the Forest," Joseph said. "We hit anything larger than a Battalion sized force, and let the rest through."

"But what if the Imperials found a way to link up in the Forest?" Frank asked. "If their numbers are large enough to threaten any villages or towns at the Forest edge, it will be disastrous for us."

"Yes, but if we evacuate away the people living around the edges of the Forest, the SDF could deal with any number of Imperials that made it through," Joseph recommended. "Plus with two Battalions of Marines on reserve in the rear, they could mobilise to support any breached areas."

Frank nodded, "We will follow this plan for now, till the situation changes. And speaking about the SDF, the police and Intelligence officers had arrested another ten SDF members including three Marines selling their firearms to both local and foreign traders."

"These have been going on since last month!" Frank said in an angry voice. "The local SDF under wartime conditions in your area of operations falls under your commands!"

"This has to stop!" Frank hissed. "I can understand it if it was the SDF selling weapons illegally, but we are Marines! We are more disciplined than the SDF!"

"The law states that anyone dealing with the sale of firearms without government approval has the punishment of life imprisonment!" Frank said in a serious tone. "And any military personnel found to be selling weapons illegally will face the penalty of death!"

"It saddened me to say this," Frank sighed. "Those three, once they are convicted will face a firing squad. And High Command wants the death penalty to be broadcasted 'live' to every armed forces branch in the UN as a lesson! Every Marine must watch it and know the consequences of such an action!"

"From now on, I want stricter controls and checks on the armory and personnel arms of everyone!" Frank glared at his commanders. "Including every single round of ammunition, grenade and RPG are to be properly audited, inventoried and physically accounted for."

"And also, check every merchant coming out from the cities for any weapons, parts or munition," Frank said. "High Command has decreed that no firearms or ammunition must be traded out. They are our highest military secrets!"

"Yes, Sir!" The Battalions' COs snapped to attention and chorused together.

"Dismiss!"

-----

Frank sighed after all the commanders left the conference area. He recalled the talk with Captain Blake regarding the issue of their weapons ending up in the hands of the other nations. Captain Blake had said that it is almost impossible to stop any single one firearm to be 'bought' by the traders and merchants.

Greed will always overwhelm common sense and people will take the risks. Captain Blake had further said that it is inevitable that their weapons will end up in the hands of their enemies or even allies sooner or later. So the only thing they could do was to delay that inevitability as long as possible.

Frank was not worried about their enemies from learning the secrets of their firearms. Even if they did so, they will still need years and years of effort to replicate their weapons. And not only that, without industrialization and mass production, no enemy could ever match up with the industrial might of the UN.

The police and Intel have managed to recover back a few of the sold weapons but still, a few had slipped between their hands and was out there somewhere, to be sold to their enemies.

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