United Nations, City of Haven, Fortress Singapore
"- tomorrow we will head to the Embassy," Spoke the image of Sherene over the communicator. "If all goes well, I will be back by the end of the month!"
"Okay, please take care! Remember to call me when you're free!" Captain Blake said and waved good bye at the image of his nodding wife on the display. He stood up and left his office and headed towards the Command Bridge. He waved the crew on duty back to their stations and stood at the forward windows, looking down at the night scenery of the city.
He leaned against the railing watching the city life going by and thought how far they had come since they crashed in this world. From a band of survivors into a nation that could be considered a superpower on this planet.
"Sir," The Officer of the Watch handed a data slate over. "Today's reports for the last five hours ago, Sir."
Blake nodded and took the data slate from the officer who stood back a few steps to await further orders. He skimmed through the information, most of them minor incidents in the city and a few reports on the progress of clearing monsters off the highways and farms.
He finished the report and returned the data slate back to the Officer of the Watch and returned to the view. It's been a year since the war with the Empire and there were many changes to the nation. There was a sudden surge in the number of refugees from the borders between the UN and the Empire.
Most of these people were from farms and villages pillaged by the Empire forces as the army retreated back towards the Capital or their own Lord's land. Already lacking abled men and slaves to work the farms, the villagers and farmers unhappy with the Empire, abandoned their homes to seek a better future with the winning side.
The months after the war had the main roads leading into the cities of Falledge and Orwell's Point, choked full of refugees. Without the means to feed and shelter so many people, the SDF and Marines could only cold heartedly turn the people away, until Blake implemented the Foreign Worker policy which gave work to those refugees in exchange for basic necessities.
This greatly increased the number of low skilled workers in the workforce, but still, there wasn't enough able manpower due to the majority of the refugees were women or the young and elderly. Still, it helped boost production in the textile, agriculture, logging, and mining sectors.
And Ford got his promised funding, Blake grinned at the thought, which Ford spent on recruitment and increasing the number of hulls in the Navy.
As for the Empire, it was starting to crumble within itself. Riots and uprisings broke out almost everywhere without any significant number of Imperial soldiers. Slaves rosed up from their previous masters while conquered kingdoms taking the opportunity to break free from the Empire rebelled.
All in all, it was a crazy mess. Blake did not want to bother the Empire's politics hence he had rejected all offers of diplomacy from them all. He only wanted to deal with the Isles, since they had been on their side all the way. That was why Sherene and his number two man was currently at the island nation.
"Any new updates from the Expeditionary Force?" Blake asked the officer behind him.
"No, Sir," The Officer of the Watch replied. "Their schedule remains unchanged. They will arrive at Goblin Island in three days."
Blake nodded and left the bridge while saying, "Update me immediately if they encountered any issues."
"Aye, aye, Captain."
The Isles, First City of the Fleet
Sherene stood at the balcony of the residence she was being hosted in, watching the night scenery of the city. The view was spectacular, as the residence was sited on the topmost terrace on the mountainside. The roar of the artificial waterfall aqueduct was soothing noise in the background, which perfectly complemented the view.
"Come in," Sherene said as someone knocked on her door.
Her assistant, Kaga, bounced into the room energetically while the newest addition to her retinue, Takao, entered in a more refined manner. "Sherene! Let's go to the night markets! I heard they have many delicious foods there!"
Sherene laughed and pinched Kaga's cheek, "So you have fully recovered now?"
Kaga squeaked and stepped out of reach from Sherene's hand and rubbed her sore cheek while her silvery fluffy ears flattened down. "We beast folk doesn't like the sea..."
Takao smiled as she patted Kaga's head as Kaga dodged behind her to avoid Sherene's hands. "Lady Kaga... You still act like a child at times!"
"Blep!" Kaga stuck her tongue out at Takao while Sherene laughed at her antics. "I'm no longer the Priestess!"
Takao gave a sad smile as she watched Kaga and Sherene heading out of the room. She was rescued a year ago from the hands of the crazy knight who tortured her endlessly and unexpectedly found Kaga to be safe with the same people who saved her.
She was told by the healers that she was suffering from something called "PTSD" which she totally has no clue what was it and had to attend some kind of counseling for months. Lady Kaga took her in and she has been living with her ever since.
"Takao!" Takao jerked out of her gloomy thoughts and looked at the door, seeing an impatient looking Kaga who waved at her. "Come on! Don't stand there in a daze! Let's go! A new adventure awaits us!"
Takao smiled and joined them, "A new adventure? You just want to eat!"
The Islands, First City of the Fleet, Docks
The sharp shrieks of the feathered sea wyverns were overshadowed by the roars of powered cranes and the cries of workers. Massive containers were swung over the side of the steel ship since early morning and were stacked in neat rows on the side of the dock.
The wooden planks of the docks creaked and groaned under the weight of the wooden containers while workers swarm over them, releasing the cables or guiding the dangling containers to another spot on the docks.
"One hundred stones or fifty tonnes of treated lumber," Said the quartermaster of the UNS Resource to the Isles' merchant in charge of accepting the goods. "Ten steam engines, and their spare parts. Six cargo trucks and their spares and two hundred sets of high grade tools kits."
"And last of all, two hundred barrels of refined Dragonite fuel," The quartermaster handed over the manifest to the portly merchant who had a serious expression on his face as he waited for his men to check all the goods.
Once he was satisfied, the merchant's expression broke into a smile and gestured to his men who carried several dozen chests filled with gold and silver and handed them over.
Ford watched the quartermaster with a guard of Marines started to sort the gold and silver bullion before weighing and testing them to confirm their value. The quartermaster looked up and gave a nod to Ford, indicating everything was correct.
Ford returned the nod and the satisfied merchant shook hands 'hooman' style with the quartermaster and left with his men who were busy transferring the goods onto carts and wagons.
The crew pushed the gold and silver onboard the UNS Resource under the watchful eye of the Marines while the other crew members started to load up supplies provided by the Isles.
The Captain of the Resource standing next to Ford said, "Sir, the ship will be ready to set sail tomorrow on time. Those on shore leave will return tonight."
"Good," Ford said. "We will leave once the tide is up tomorrow. Port Sanctuary is still waiting for the delivery of our supplies, materials, and workers."
"Make sure you have a strong guard for the gold and silver," Ford added as he walked towards the gangway. "Contact me immediately if there are any issues!"
The Isles, First City of the Fleet, Council of Masters
Sherene sat on a beautifully carved high backed chair, before a large round table. Behind her stood both her assistants, Kaga and Takao. Facing her, seated around the table, was the five Fleet Masters of the Isles.
The Council of Masters was held inside the ship on the peak of the mountain. Natural light came in from a sky well on the roof and portholes around the hull, which lit the entire interior brightly. The interior was made into an oval shaped terrace forum with the round table in the middle where the Fleet Masters sat.
"I hope you have enjoyed your stay here, Lady Sherene?" The First Fleet Master, Kose spoke. He wore a gold threaded maroon doublet with his coat of office slung over his shoulders.
"Thank you for the kind hospitality, First Fleet Master," Sherene smiled and gave a small bow from her seat. "Your city is beautiful!"
"But not as amazing as yours," Fleet Master Kose smiled. "I still think of those... 'bur girls' sold there..."
"Ahem..." Fleet Master Akron cleared his throat as the First Fleet Master started drifting off topic.
"Ah... my apologies," Fleet Master Kose laughed. "Now, to business!"
"Here is the document detailing our alliance with all the terms laid out," Sherene waved to Kaga who started to hand out the stacks of papers to each Fleet Master seated around the table. "Now, I will explain the terms for everyone. If you all please turn to look at page one..."
Two hours later, Sherene walked out of the Council and stretched her tensed body. "Wooo! Finally, this is over!"
"Lady Sherene!" Fleet Master Dijon suddenly appeared behind her. "I... How are you?"
"I am well," Sherene smiled at the bearded giant. "You?"
"I am good too!" Dijon smiled back before he laughed. "We are now allies! But the terms you gave us... You should be a merchant instead!"
"Hehe," Sherene giggled. "Still the terms aren't bad for you all."
"True be told," Dijon frowned. "If it wasn't for the steam engines and 'kars', this deal is truly to our disadvantage!"
"Are you sure?" Sherene rolled her eyes at his statement. "You do know we needed money urgently."
'Ha!" Dijon smiled. "Guess nothing escapes your eyes!"
"The terms are really generous," Sherene did not bother with Dijon's teasing. "If one party is attacked or in a crisis, the other will send troops or support to help the other. Trade wise, both sides get priority to certain goods and services."
"Yes, you do know that now, many... 'countries' want to ally with us with lesser terms than that," Dijon added. "You might have a strong military but trade and influence wise, we stand at the top!"
"Your Blake should feel honored for us accepting this treaty!" Dijon grumbled unhappily.
"But the best for you is still the technology exchange," Sherene pointed out. "You do know our technology can help your Island nation grow even stronger?"
Dijon crossed his arms and gave a dissatisfied humph. "He should have personally come here to sign the treaty! He really thinks he is that great?"
Sherene sighed and rubbed her head, "So you are just unhappy with my husband?"
Dijon nodded seriously.
"Hai..." Sherene felt a headache mounting. "Men..."
"Well, he's not here, for that I apologized. He is quite busy back home..." Sherene replied with a pacifying tone. "Next time, I promise, I will bring him over to visit!"
"Hmph!" Dijon's scowl disappeared and he nodded again. "Alright, remember! He has to show us some respect! We are allies now!"
"Yes... yes..." Sherene felt like she was comforting a child, a very big child. "I need to head down to the harbor now this is over, we need to sail to Port Sanctuary."
"Let's go!" Dijon gestured down the long flight of stairs. "I shall escort you to the docks."
"And leave together with you to Port Sanctuary!"