The General Atomics MQ - 242 'Owleye' Unmanned Reconnaissance Vehicle was already on its last legs as it hovered quietly over the city it was assigned to overwatch. Built over forty years ago, it was mothballed together with the aging City Class heavy cruiser Singapore and only taken back into service when the UNS Singapore was retrofit back into active service as an auxiliary ship.

Without a proper UAV servicing station for the UAVs, the MQ - 242 Owleyes had started to break down with reduced performance. The Engineering team could only make simple maintenance and repairs but with proper materials and how know, they could only prolong the inevitable for only so much time.

Now for the last time in its active service life, the last remaining Owleye which was long overdue to be decommissioned performed its final data collection mission.


Empire of Bluewood, City of Silverton, Citadel, Great Hall

Over a hundred people dressed in the latest court fashion thronged the Great Hall. Music, conversation, and laughter could be heard while a small army of servants waited on the guests.

The Emperor sat on the throne at the end of the Great Hall and watched the nobles and influential people mingling around before him. He took a sip of his wine and inwardly felt disdain for the fawning faces of the people before him.

All of them want wealth and power, yet none was willing to pay the price of it. Only wanting to take credit from others without dirtying their hands. These people will only know how to suck the Empire dry of its resources, thought the Emperor. When asked for any contributions to the war against the rebels, everyone gave excuses of all kinds, but when invited to a party, everyone was suddenly available.

He kept a smile on his face as he devised a plan to wipe out all those unworthy to the Empire. Only the strong shall keep the Empire strong!


United Nation, City of Haven, Fortress Singapore, Naval Intelligence Department

Lieutenant Tavor broke into a smile as he watched the delayed feed from the UAV cameras. The large screens taking up one wall of the Naval Intelligence Department's Ops Room were showing an image that was taken from the UAV currently hovering just over the city of Silverton.

The screen was showing an image of a stone keep that was brightly lit and through the crystal windows, a part of sorts was going on. As the UAV operator controlled the cameras, the view panned over to the last window which clearly shown a male lounging on a throne.

The Emperor was dressed in a long blue coat, thick with elaborate golden embroidery and wearing a simple looking eastern crown with just three spikes on the front. Lt Tavor gestured to the UAV operator to zoom in the camera.

He walked closer to the screen and nodded in triumphant, "Hello there, Mr. Emperor..."


United Nations, City of Haven, Residental District

The phone rang suddenly in the middle of the night, jolting awake both Blake and Sherene from their sleep. Blake gently untangled himself from Sherene's arms as he rolled himself over to the edge of the bed.

"Wh- who is calling at such a time?" Sherene grumbled sleepily.

Blake patted Sherene's head and hopped over to the table where the phone was still ringing. "Blake here."

"Captain, sorry for disturbing you and the princess's sleep." The voice of Lt Tavor came in clear over the phone. "But we got a situation here..."

"Got it," Blake rubbed the grains of sleep of his eyes. "I will be in the Bridge in... twenty minutes."

"Yes, Sir," Lt Tavor replied. "A car has been dispatched for you and will be waiting when you're downstairs."

Blake put down the phone back to its cradle and hopped his way to the side of the bed before strapping on his prosthetic leg.

"What is the matter?" Sherene rolled over and hugged Blake in the middle. "Did something urgent came up?"

Blake nodded and gave Sherene's hands a squeeze before he turned over and kissed her on the forehead. "Go back to sleep, I need to go to the Bridge for an urgent matter."

"Is it very serious?" The sleepiness in Sherene's voice had disappeared.

"Maybe," Blake smiled at Sherene. "Don't worry, I can handle it."

"Hmm..." Sherene nodded and got off the bed to help dress Blake in his uniform. "Call me if there is anything you need my help, okay?"

"Okay," Blake kissed Sherene and grabbed his peak cap before he left the room and out of the penthouse. He took the elevator down to the ground floor and found a couple of Jeeps with their engines running and waiting for him.

His escorts saluted and opened the door for him and before long, he was on his way to the tallest structure in the city. The guards stood at attention at his arrival and soon he was stepping into the Bridge and waved the night watch crew back to their seats.

"Sir!" Lt Tavor was waiting for him at the forward section. Without beating around the bush, he activated the screens and played back the surveillance video feed taken an hour ago. "We got visual confirmation an hour ago that the Emperor is in the city."

Blake watched the video played at 1.5x speed before the video paused when the camera panned and zoomed in to show the Emperor seated on the throne through the windows. "That's him, yes?"

Lt Tavor nodded, "I had his image tallied with several previous ex Empire personnel and our high value prisoners. They all have confirmed his identity."

"Sir, do we have the green light to start the operation?" Lt Tavor asked in a serious tone.

Blake frowned and rubbed the thin stubble forming on his chin and asked, "How long till we lose UAV coverage?"

"I say..." Lt Tavor turned to check with his aide before he replied. "40 hours max before the UAV is due to return."

"We only have enough lift capacity to drop a single Battalion and all its assets in one go..." Blake drummed his fingers on the tactical plot table as he checked the map. "Two hours roughly for a single trip... And when we add in refueling and loading time..."

"So we need roughly fifteen hours to get all three Battalions stationed at Falledge to reach Silverton..." Blake did a quick calculation. "Are the Marines still lacking in supplies?"

Lt Tavor nodded, "Only half of the supplies had reached them due to the sudden change in deployment orders."

"So, they have roughly enough for two weeks of combat?" Blake asked to which Lt Tavor nodded again. "Okay, that should be enough. We will airdrop the rest when they get them."

"Inform all departments to start Operation Overlord now!"


United Nations, City of Falledge, Falledge Airfield, Marine Staging Area

The turboprops of the FB - 1 Mariners' propellers spun and roared lustily, throwing out clumps of black smoke from the engine exhausts as the engines stabilized. A dozen FB - 1 Mariners sat in rows on the tarmac had their engines powered up as lines of troops started boarding the aircraft.

Further down the row of Mariners, sat two of the latest cargo transport aircraft, the C - 1 'Sky Freighter'. It had a high wing profile with two turboprop engines and a single pylon on each wing and a large vertical stabilizer at the tail end which housed a tail ramp for loading and unloading of cargo.

The Sky Freighter was slightly larger than the Mariner in size and wingspan. It could carry more than twice the cargo of the Mariner and was faster and had more endurance. The two aircraft had their rear ramps down as troops started loaded up with supplies and equipment. Armored Support Autonomous Spider Golems packed to the gills with weapons and supplies obediently rolled up the ramps and allowed the aircrew and their handlers to strap them down to the decks.

Once all the supplies and Marines were boarded and strapped in, the rows of aircraft taxied to the runway and lined up in an orderly fashion. Twins banks of illuminated spells lit up the runway and the roar of engines grew louder and louder as the lead plane charged up its engines and took off smoothly into the night skies.

The men stood at the edges watching the aircraft taking off one after another and knew that hours later, it will be their turn.


Empire of Bluewood, City of Silverton, Citadel, Great Hall

The Emperor's expression suddenly changed and he jerked his head to look out of the crystal windows. He suddenly felt a strange sensation of something was watching him, making him feel a chill down his spine. He unconsciously touched his chest where the fragment of the Sun God was implanted in his body, feeling the warmth it was giving out.

"What is it, my Emperor?" A voice asked from the shadows behind the Emperor Varacen. "Is there something wrong?"

"Strange..." The Emperor frowned as he kept his eye out of the window, seeing the darkness outside. "I felt someone peeking on me."

"Wait for a moment, my Emperor..." The shadow replied and after a while, the shadow spoke again. "The anti scrying spells are still in effect and nothing has breached the magic barrier nor the alarms."

"Hmm..." Emperor Varacen nodded but his expression did not change much. "Has the reinforcements reached the front?"

"Soon, my Emperor," The shadow spoke. "The Bronze men will be gathering at the Third Imperial Army by dawn and they will storm the lines."

"Good," Emperor Varacen nodded. "Break the right flank and take the city of Orwell's Point. They must have more of those thunder weapons there."

"Yes, my Emperor," Replied the shadow again. "Already we have gathered close to a hundred of such weapons!"

"And the training?" Emperor Varacen asked. "And has the Alchemist and Mage Guilds found out anything about the thunder weapons?"

"The men are... learning the thunder weapons fast," The shadow said. "But there is still no word from the Alchemists and Mages regarding the black sand and how the thunder rifle is made."

"No matter," Emperor Varacen gave a dismissive wave of his hand. "We have more bodies than they have. I do not believe they can stop all of us with their pitiful numbers even if they are all armed with thunder weapons!"


United Nations, Northern Front, Right Flank, Orwell's Point Forward Defense Line

The Rock watched yet another wave of Imperial troops navigating through the bloody mud, bodies, and remains of razor wire under the illumination spells overhead. The distinctive rat ta ta of the machine guns opened up first followed by the deeper boom of the rifles.

They had fallen back from the Twin Fork Fort yesterday and traveling down the river and redeployed at the defensive line here, just several kilometers away. To his surprise, the Imperial Army had continued to chase them, making the Rock wonder which incompetent commander was leading the Third.

Despite the constant attacks, the Rock could sense the unwillingness and low morale of the Imperials as they made a show of attacking the UN lines before falling back again. As if to agree to his thoughts, the Imperials ceased their attacks and retreated back into the night.

"This makes no sense," The Rock said to his buddy who had sat down duckboards and leaned against the trench wall. "They are just wasting their lives and efforts."

"Who cares!" His buddy gave a shrug. "They can keep doing that all they want. Just don't come into our lines!"

The Rock frowned, feeling something was wrong with how the way the Imperials were attacking. There must be something else or they will not be wasting lives like this. Could it be a diversion? Or was he really thinking too much and that the Imperial Commander was really an incompetent fool?

"I got a bad feeling about this..."

A note from neo Koh

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neo Koh


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