Straits of the Isles, Port Sanctuary

Located somewhat in the middle between the mainland and the island nation of the Isles at 139 km southwest west of the Isles and 287 km east of the continent of the New World was a nondescript featureless island. A hive of activity was ongoing on that island for over a month, with sailing ships bringing supplies and materials from the trade ports of the Isles.

The sausage shaped sand covered island's terrain was mostly flat, and has barely any vegetation was surrounded by several patches of razor sharp reefs that protruded out of the water during the low tides. The island had roughly a length of over four kilometers and a width of two kilometers at the thickest section with a small marshy swamp on one tiny corner.

A deep water cove served as a natural harbor for the few ships anchored within it. Amongst the sailing ships were four ships that stood out. All four ships were grey in color and made out of steel. They docked parallel against one and another while the largest steel ship had a floating dock linking it to the white sandy beaches.

Hundreds of figures disembarked off the side of the ship while others waited to unload all the cargo. Sherene hopped off the side of the motorboat and splashed into the crystal clear waters. She giggled and kicked the waters with her bare feet before stepping onto the white sandy beach.

Fleet Master Dijon gave a forlorn look at Sherene before he jumped off the side of the boat and joined her on the beach. Sherene held on to her sun hat and looked around the island, only seeing a few trees here and there. "This is really an island that has nothing!"

Dijon nodded as he joined her side. "Yes, the ground is mostly sand and there are barely any useful trees. There's only a small waterhole here and this natural harbor."

"There are too many reefs around here too," Dijon continued. "Making it dangerous for any fishing boats. Our fleet will only use this cove to take shelter from storms and that's it."

"I don't know why you all wanted this islet for," Dijon frowned at the bare land while gesturing towards the sea. "There are better islands to make an Embassy."

"Ahh, but this island is the most suitable for our needs," Ford suddenly appeared behind them and spoke. "It is a really good place for us actually."

Dijon gave whatever shrug at Ford's word as the islet has no value to the Isles and giving it away to the UN in exchange for their 'tek no logee' was a damn good deal. "Good for you then!"

Ford gave a secret smile to the back of Dijon who followed Sherene towards several buildings that had been constructed weeks ago. Ford looked towards the direction of the marsh and a small smile appeared on his weathered face. If you knew what this island has, you guys won't be willing to give it up for just a couple of steam engines!

Dijon glanced behind him and lowered his voice so that only Sherene could hear. "Don't go to the marsh on the east side of the island! Especially at night! It's haunted!"

"Really?" Sherene replied with a surprised tone. "How do you know?"

"Many have seen it! Spirits that fly around the marsh!" Dijon whispered. "I telling you this is because we are friends! Remember! Don't wander around the marsh at night!"

Sherene gave a solemn nod but her eyes tickled with mirth as she stepped onto a simple path made out of crushed rocks and joined the hundreds of disembarked workers, naval and marine personnel as they walked over to the buildings. Two grey rectangular three storied concrete buildings formed an 'L' shape while another two more square blocks of buildings lined up on the other side, forming an 'n'. Between the buildings was a large square, also paved with crushed rocks. Three flag posts were elected on the open end of the square which flew the flags of the UN, the Navy, and the Marines.

Further off, were mostly empty sheds and dozens of other buildings still under construction and on the other side of the base, was a half completed airstrip. Dijon gave a low whistle as he took in the construction. "You people really know how to build things fast!"

"This place was barely even handed over to you all for a month!" Dijon sighed in admiration. "Now, a small fortress seemed to have sprung up out of nowhere!"

"Don't worry," Sherene laughed. "Now that we are allies, we will teach you how to build fast!"

"That will be great!" Dijon was truly amazed by the skills of the UN. "This is really amazing!"

Ford ignored their conversation as he looked around the base. The administration and office buildings were completed and just needed to be furbished while the barracks were the first to be built, allowing the workers and military stationed here to have a roof over their heads.

The power station bunker was still under construction and power was provided by several humming generators under cover. Sheds for vehicles and building materials were laid out next to the runway and dozens of workers were toiling under the sun as they paved the land.

"Sir! Mdm!" A senior human engineer wearing a yellow hard hat saluted Ford. He handed over a report to Ford and gave a brief rundown of their progress. "Construction work is on schedule as long as the weather holds."

Ford nodded as he moved away from Dijon, as he didn't want the Islander to overhear their conversation. "And the airfield?"

"It will take another 2 weeks to pave and grade the runway," The engineer said. "Another about a month or so to dig and lay down the foundations for the fuel and ammunition bunkers."

"How about the... oil rig?" Ford lowered his voice as he kept his eyes on the Islander chatting away with Sherene. "What's the progress?"

"We have assembled the derrick and pumps," The engineer replied. "And is preparing the drill head and pipes as we speak. As for if it runs as it is designed to... We have no idea."

"Didn't your team, tested and modeled it out before building the rig?" Ford asked. "Should there be any problems I need to be worried about?"

"Sir, please understand this is all kinda new to us, we don't know if the drill will work," The engineer pointed out. "It looks all nice and feasible on paper, but we need to run it on real world conditions before we know."

"What we do know is," The engineer continued. "There is a pocket of natural gas, under the murk..."

"That is what's causing the ghost fires," The engineer explained. "Most likely lit by a thunderstorm and has been burning on and off ever since. Trapped underneath the gas is what we want most, crude oil."

"Lucky for us, we have a few amateur geologists among the survey teams," The engineer said. "They took samples of the soil and water and drilled into the marsh. And the samples came up positive for signs of hydrocarbons."

"But without dedicated equipment, they can't estimate the size of the oil reservoir," The engineer said. "Even the location of the dig is also based on guesses."

"But what we do know is, we need to pump out the natural gas before we can start digging into the ground," The engineer added. "Also we need to pump water into the drills when we are digging through the ground. Hopefully, the oil is close to the surface or better, a natural oil seep, that's held back by the pocket of natural gas."

"This way, we don't have to dig much," said the engineer. "The lesser the digging the lesser problems will occur."

Ford nodded, "Do what you need to do. There is a new batch of workers coming off the Resource now. Assign them as you see fit."

"Yes, Sir," The engineer gave a salute and returned to his work, leaving Ford alone.

Ford flipped through the report in his hand before he went off to find Sherene and Dijon who were wandering around the base.


"Captain," Ford greeted the image on the display. "Well, work on schedule."

"Nice to have something going well for a start," Blake's image replied after a second. The image was slightly out of sync with the audio. "We need that source of oil."

"I know," Ford replied. "Once the rig is up and running, hopefully, we can start shipping crude oil back to Far Harbor to start processing them."

"Thank god we found that source of oil easily," Blake said. "We are running out of dragonite to mine."

"Yea," Ford agreed. "Well, we do know a few other places that have pitch and tar, which has a high chance of having crude oil too. But this is the closest to us."

"Guess Tavor's intelligence network is finally paying off too!" Ford smiled. "Well, this base will be up and running by next year!"

Blake's image nodded. "For now, that source of crude oil will be our new lifeline. You make sure the base is fully capable of protecting itself from attacks!"

"Understood," Ford replied. "Once the basic infrastructure is up, I will get the engineers to work on the next phase of construction."

"We will blow up the reefs around the cove entrance and widen the channel," Ford said. "This will allow larger ships to enter and exit without danger. Permanent docks and shipyards will be constructed within the cove."

"It will also be the place where we trade and exchange technology with the Isles," Ford finished. "This will cut down a lot of the travel time and costs, especially if we use our own ships for commerce."

"Yes," Blake's image replied. "I am actually more worried about the coming disaster."

"You mean the famine that will happen?" Ford asked.

Blake's image nodded again. "It's funny how we survived aliens... monsters... enemy soldiers... zombies... Gods and heroes... and now we are gonna face waves of innocent starving people..."

"The irony of this planet..." Blake's image sighed. "Have you shared information regarding this to the Isles' Council of Masters?"

Ford shook his head before he gave a smirk, "No... not yet. Oh talking about Masters... Dijon is here... He's been following Sherene around like a lost puppy."

"What?" Blake's image half stood up. "Why that son of a bi-"

"Hahaha!" Ford laughed at Blake's expression. "Don't worry! Kaga and that new girl, Takao, both are keeping a sharp eye for you. Dijon won't steal her from you. I promise!"

"Goddamn it!" Blake's image cursed. "Look, get that ass hole out of Port Sanctuary ASAP and away from my wife! I don't care how you do it... JUST DO IT!"

"Alright! Alright! Relax!" Ford continued to smile. "I just break the news about the coming famine crisis! That should get him back on the first boat out of here."

"GOOD!" Blake finally calmed down. "Once the Marines have finished the business with the Goblins. We will start restructuring the military and prepare for another war..."

"You really gonna fold the Marines into the Navy?" Ford frowned. "I don't think the Marines will like that much..."

"Now that the Navy has hulls, you gonna need the Marines," Blake said. "And we are going to need an army to protect our borders."

"The SDF will become the core of the UN Army," Blake continued. "Half of the Marines will be transferred to the Army to help form its core."

"Lots of Marine won't be happy about the changes," Ford remained Blake. "Especially the Orcs..."

"Don't worry, they won't," Blake's image grinned. "I got someone in mind that will make the troops support the Army..."

"Who?" Ford frowned as he asked.

"Joseph... I will bump him up to one star and he will be made the Chief of Army!"

A note from neo Koh

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