Goblin Island, Beachhead, Marine Expedition Force Defense Line

The echos of naval artillery fire washed over the tired soldiers as they remained in their dugouts. The terrain before them was originally a thickly forested land, but now it was replaced by charred remains of tree stumps and craters filled with minced body parts and bloody mud.

Joseph stood on a crate and watched the devasted land, seeing the filthy looking goblins rushing across the pockmarked land in another attempt to rush the Marines defenses. It has been over a week since they landed and basically, they were just dug in and killing off waves and waves of goblins.

The number of goblins was unexpectedly larger than their Intelligence estimates by a lot. Joseph estimated that they had probably killed off at least fifty thousand of those creatures but yet their numbers did not seem to be dwindling any time soon.

Even the three Navy corvettes had run low on HE shells for their guns and two of the transports had to be dispatch back to Far Harbor to pick up supplies. Now the remaining two transports had anchored off as close to shore as possible to add their two 20mm guns as support to the Marines.

The killing was easy, as the goblins rushed mindlessly without any form of cohesion. But after days of mind numbing killings, it affected even the most hardened Marines. Joseph had no choice but to rotate the troops to man the killing lines.

"Thank the Gods, the mission planners had included adequate small arms ammunition..." Joseph muttered to himself. "Damn, goblins must have bred like mad to have such numbers..."

A series of loud explosions rumbled over the charging goblins, throwing a mist of greenish vaporized blood into the air. Yet the goblins continued their mad peals of laughter and shrieks, climbing over the bodies of the dead to get close to the Marines.

Joseph watched the laughing goblins cross an invisible line and got mowed down by rifles and machine guns. "It's going to be another long day..."


The Isles, First City of the Fleet, Council of Masters

Sherene sat on the high back chair watching the Fleet Masters of the Council in a heated discussion while the First Fleet Master remained quiet, seated with his back straight with folded arms. Today, the meeting was a closed affair and it only consisted of the Fleet masters and Sherene, together with a few trusted aides.

"Lady Sherene," First Fleet Master Kose finally spoke, causing the chamber to quieten down. His grey eyes locked onto Sherene as he asked. "How certain of this information are you?"

"Very," Sherene returned Fleet Master Kose's stare evenly. "We investigated the markets and reports of unrest all over the Empire."

"The Empire is already fractured," Fleet Master Megan cut in with a scornful voice. "It will be expected to have so... unpleasant effects..."

"Of course," Sherene gave a sweet smile at Fleet Master Megan who rolled her eyes away. "But the Empire holds a massive number of people."

"And the majority of those people are slaves who worked the farms and mines," Sherene explained. "If the mines stopped working, it will just affect the economy... But if the farms all stop working..."

"There will be no food," Fleet Master Dijon finished the sentence. "And if there is no food..."

"People die," Sherene said. "But that is not all, people will flock to hope."

"And hope will lead them to migrate across vast distances," Sherene continued. "They will become a mob... A mob that will raze the land in search of food and hope."

"And that hope is your nation?" First Fleet Master Kose asked.

"Yes, due to rumors and hearsay, they will treat us as their only hope of survival," Sherene gave a nod. "But we can't save them."

"And if you save one, thousands more will come," Fleet Master Akron wiped his monocle with a piece of cloth before readjusting it back to his eye. "And your nation can't afford to do that."

"Yes," Sherene replied. "We already started some measures to ensure an increase in food production. We plan to sell food cheaply to the cities and towns bordering our lands."

"Hmmm," Fleet Master Akron rubbed his mustard. "But this is just a simple stop gap measure. More needs to be done to prevent a mass exodus to your nation."

Sherene nodded, "That is why we wished to invite businessmen in the Isles to start up fisheries in our land."

"Fisheries?" Fleet Master Akron frowned. "You plan to mass produce salted fish for sale?"

Sherene smiled and shook her head, "Not salted, we planned to do something even better!"

Reaching her hand out, Sherene took the stack of papers from Kaga behind her. "Here are the plans for an improved method of food preservation. Instead of using glass to bottle food, we will be switching to use cans."

She then explained the advantages and costs of canning to the Fleet Masters who could easily see the implications as they were all merchants at heart. "With this method, we can store cooked food for up to 30 years!"

"I am truly amazed by your people," Fleet Master Kose said while shooking his head in admiration. "Using this canning method of yours, it will revolutionize the entire food industry!"

"Yes!" Dijon was visibly excited as he pounded the table. "No more salted fish or meat! I am sick of eating those on long voyages!"

"I will like to invest in that canning 'tek no logee' of yours!" Fleet Akron suddenly said. "I am sure you will need large amount of capital for workshops, and resources to start up right?"

"Hey!" Dijon cried out. "Not fair! I will invest too!"

Sherene giggled as he watched the large framed Dijon trying to pressure the smaller and slimmer Akron into giving in. "Don't worry, we do welcome investors, and we not only have canning as the only business."

"Remember I said, we were looking to increase our fisheries?" Sherene gave a mischievous smile. "And canning does not need to be limited to only fish. Meat, vegetables, fruits, and even drinks can be canned!"


United Nations, Haven, City Hall

A silver haired young man stood with a girl hand in hand before the grand looking building. Surrounding them were towers made of glass and steel that befuddled the mind, making them feel small and alien.

Justze and Ciel could not help craning their necks to look around. They had spent a year in Orwell's Point, earning their keep and taking classes, which felt exotic to them. At the start, there were too many new things they had to learn before they could even be considered to be hired.

It was a massive blow to their ego as they were elementalists. They were used to be highly regarded and treated with respect in the Empire. But in the city of Orwell's Point, they were just barely rated one level higher than construction workers!

Disbelieving that they were not highly sought after, they offered their services to anyone willing to hire them but none was willing to hire their services. It was until more than a month later, they found out why.

They saw the magicless contraptions rolling out on fields and in less than a day, the ground was dug up without any effort. Justze couldn't believe his eyes as he watched those contraptions work tirelessly, toiling the soil and rocks.

If it was him, he would be required to take breaks to restore his mana and still he won't be able to manipulate the soil as fast as that contraption with any rest! In the end, he lowered his hiring fee and was only able to take up a few jobs, helping the local farmers tilt the soil and make repairs to irrigation dykes and drains.

Ciel, being weaker in her elemental power, had managed to find a job as a sales clerk in a store. Both of them managed to rent a small place to stay and they slowly and carefully save every coin they had.

Justze didn't give up on the news of his sister. He managed to hear some word that there was a female elementalist working in the Capital of the United Nations. It gave him hope, and he worked hard towards his goal with Ciel faithfully following him.

Finally, after a year of hard work and saving up, they finally have the funds to move Haven. The iron beast called a train was amazing to both of them. They have never seen should a method of transport. It was like a dozens of wagons hitched together and pulled by a contraption powered by steam! And even more amazing, the train ride took them to the outskirts of the Capital city of the United Nations across a distance that would have taken them at least a month on foot in just a matter of hours!

A helpful police officer they asked, told them to head to the City Hall to register their identity before they can find accommodations and work. They took a bus that brought them into the city and deposited them before the City Hall.

They had thought in Orwell's Point, the magicless wagons and strange flying crosses called 'aeroplanes' were already impressive enough. But coming here really opened their eyes to a whole new world.

Together hand in hand, both youngsters timidly climbed the steps and headed into the City Hall. A couple grim looking policemen stood at the doors gestured them to the side where a clerk asked them for any identity and if they were carrying any weapons like knives, swords, wands or staves.

Justze and Ciel handed over their provisional identity cards issued from the Governor's Office of Orwell's Point and placed their personnel knives and magic wands on a basket in which another police officer took it and handed over a tag. "When you leave, use the tag to retrieve your weapons."

Both of them nodded and watched as the clerk tapped away at some runes on the table. They have seen this before, a 'tek no logee' called a 'corn puter'. After a short moment, the clerk asked them without leaving his eyes off the flat screen before him. "State of business?"

"We want to stay and work here!" Justze replied. "Also I am trying to find news of my sister!"

"Ok, queue number 273, head straight in and you will see the signs for Citizen Application on your right. Wait for your number to be called," The clerk said in a bored tone. He returned the identity cards of them both and a ticket with some arabic numbers that they recognized and learned in their classes. "As for lost of kin, go to the police post to ask for assistance."

Justze and Ciel gave a quick bow of thanks to the clerk who waved them off barely before they headed deeper into the building. To their wonder, the halls were like a palace, long and wide. Rows of benches were on one side filled with people of different races.

Justze could see goblins and Orcs, mixed together with the people all sitting patiently and harmoniously together. In their first encounter with a goblin in Orwell's Point, they nearly stabbed the creature with their daggers, but luckily they controlled themselves as they found that the goblin wasn't hostile and the people around weren't even bothered by the fact there was an elf eating goblin dressed in some kind of jacket was wandering the streets.

They entered the right passageway, where a huge sign with the 'Engish' runes, "Citizenship' was displayed. After passing through the passageway, they entered another large hall were rows and rows of benches were placed neatly and filled with people.

"Calling queue number 125... Calling queue number 125. Please come to counter 2!" A loud voice seemed to appear out of the walls, and both of them looked around in surprise.

Justze looked down at his ticket number and sighed. "Let's find a seat, I think we will have to wait some time for our number to be called..."

A note from neo Koh

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