The Isles, Port Sanctuary, UN Embassy

Commander Ford leaned back on the reclining seat on the balcony of his quarters. He wore a set of sunglasses, a pair of shorts and an unbuttoned shirt with his hands clasped behind his head. A glass of iced cococane juice and tray of cured meats sat on the side table next to his chair as he relaxed in the shade.

Outside his balcony, he could hear people playing a game of beach volleyball as the off duty personnel enjoyed some R and R after the passing of the storm. He reached out and took a sip of the sweet cooling drink and sighed happily. "This is life... No crisis... no urgent matters... nothing!"

Just as he was about to close his eyes, urgent knocking sounded from his door. Scowling, he got up from his chair and went to open the door. "What is the matter? I am off duty!"

"Sir!" A nervous ensign saluted at the doorway and held out a sealed slip of paper. "Priority message from Ops!"

Ford's unhappiness faded as he grabbed the message slip and tore the seal up before reading it. His expression froze and he reread the message again before he snapped, "You got a ride?"

"Yes, Sir!" The ensign replied. "Eh... it's downstairs..."

"Good!" Ford slipped on a pair of slippers and pushed the ensign towards the stairs. "I need a ride to Operation Command! Bring me there now! ASAP!"

He exited the officers' apartments in a hurry and found the vehicle as the ensign said parked on the side of the road with its engines running. Ford quickly hopped on into the Jeep to the surprise of the driver but was cut off when Ford snapped an order, just as the ensign climbed on board too. "To Ops Com now!"

The driver recognizing the person was who in shorts and an unbuttoned shirt, bobbed his head and quickly stepped on the pedals. As they were halfway there, the sound of engines hummed overhead as a pair of Navy Super Cobras flew overhead.

It took them less than ten minutes of fast driving to reach the squat looking structure surrounded by a metal fence and razor wire. Ford waved the Marines away at the checkpoint and the Jeep drove past the gates and started right at the building.

Without a word, Ford hurried through another checkpoint before descending down a flight of stairs and another checkpoint before finally arriving at the command center. The command staff paused in their work as they stared in surprised the state of undress of their commander who normally was neat in his dressing.

Ignoring their stares, Ford asked, "What's the situation with the Fury?"

The Officer In Charge stood forward and answered, "Sir, we received an emergency broadcast from their radio that they were under attack."

"At where?" Ford asked. "And is there any other news?"

"There last known coordinates are here, at Star Island," The OIC pointed to an island south of the Isle's capital. "This island is a common spot for ships to take shelter from storms."

"Their previous messages were they took shelter there since the night before to weather the sudden squall before heading towards Port Sanctuary," The OIC continued. "It's roughly a hundred and ten kilometers from the nearest Isle's port and two hundred and thirty kilometers from us."

"Any information about the attackers?" Ford asked as he eyed the map, mentally calculating distances.

"No much, Sir," The OIC replied. "I have scrambled the alert Cobras and they are en route to the scene to investigate and provide any assistance if required."

"They should arrive within one hour, thirty minutes," The OIC glanced at the clock on the wall. "Also we received word from the Isles that they are dispatching a fleet to assist the Fury. But it will take them hours to arrive."

"Can we contact the Fury?" Ford frowned. "After that call of an attack, there is no more word?"

The OIC shook his head, "We been trying to raise the Fury over the radio, but no luck, Sir."

"Shit..." Ford rubbed his face. He should have the Boss's wife return with their ships instead of taking the Isle's ship back. "Fuck... if anything happens to her... The Cap will have my head... Fuck!"

"Order the fleet to stand to! We will dispatch the fleet!"


Star Island

The sand crunched underneath the Inquisitor's boots as he stepped off the ramp of the Innocence. The large ship had docked on the ground, several spindly legs had unfolded from their cradles and like a malformed giant spider, the ship hurdle closely to the ground, its legs supporting the ship's weight.

"Lord Inquisitor Mathias! May the Judge sees you worthy!" The Chief Paladin in charge of the troops slammed his right fist over his chest in salute. "The lawless have been destroyed! We have captured one of them. Judging by his clothing, he appears to be someone of rank among the lawless!"

"And the artifact?" Inquisitor Mathias asked as he followed the Chief Paladin towards the edge of the forest where a group of Paladins was gathered.

"We found nothing of any sorts on the bodies of the lawless, my lord!" The Chief Paladin stopped before the group of soldiers. His blood red armor was crusted with gold which shined brightly under the sun. "Bring forth the prisoner!"

Inquisitor Mathias watched as the group of Paladins parted and two of their numbers dragged a blood soaked male between them. They dumped the bearded male before Inquisitor Mathias and saluted before stepping back.

"Wake him!" The Chief Paladin barked and one of his soldiers poured a bucket of seawater over the lawless, making him curl up and moan in pain. "Bring him up to face his Judgement!"

Inquisitor Mathias eyed the lawless on his knees before him. The large sized male was hairy, as it showed on his face and his chest where his clothes were ripped and torn. Blood had caked all over his body, as the Paladins performed some low leveled healing on the lawless so that he can still be alive to be questioned.

"Tell me, lawless..." Inquisitor Mathias crouched next to the man. "Where is the item from the ruins?"

The lawless lifted his head weakly and spat, a glob of saliva and blood landed right on the mask of Inquisitor Mathias. The lawless laughed and coughed, before laughing again. He said something but none could understand his words.

Inquisitor Mathias stood up calmly and the Chief Paladin quickly came over and helped him wiped the spat away. "Did you understand his words?"

"No, my Lord!" The Chief Paladin replied. "But I recognized some words... I think he is speaking in some form of the ancient tongue."

"High Elstimar?" Inquisitor Mathias frowned. "No one remembers that ancient tongue no longer... Except for the Grand Librarians... or the Judges..."

"Bring him to the Judges then... they will force out what we want to know from his mind," Inquisitor Mathias said.

"Yes, my Lord!" The Chief Paladin nodded and gestured to his men to carry the prisoner back. "Also my Lord, my men are combing the rest of the island for the rest of the lawless."

"Do it fast," Inquisitor Mathias replied as he looked out to the sea at the smoldering wreck that was slowly sinking into the ocean. "We do not know if they called for help, and that smoke will off our position."


Naval Air Squadron 125, en route to Star Island

The flight of two F/A 1N Super Cobras were flying side by side as they headed straight for their objective. Unlike the Air Force, the N versions had floats under their bellies and wings. And despite the upgrade of their engines, the single under belly large float and wing pontoons degraded the aircraft's performance by about 20%.

The island soon appeared within the pilots' sight and both aircraft dipped down to get a closer look at the surroundings. As they dropped their altitude, they spotted two large sailless ships on the island but no sign of the Fury.

"Sanctuary, this is Striker Lead," The lead pilot radioed back. "No signs of any Isles ship. But we stopped two unknown vessels on Star Island. Over."

"Sanctuary, continue to observe," The radio replied. "Be advised. Unknown vessels might be hostile. Follow the *ROE. Over." (*Rules of Engagement)

"Roger!" The lead pilot acknowledged. He switched his comms to his second, "Two, you copy?"

"Two copies!"

"Good, watch my six, I am going for a closer look!" The lead pilot of Striker squadron dived his plane downwards towards the island. As he appeared, he could see a hive of activity going on on the island. Tiny stick figures were scrambling in all directions, some pointed upwards, others were waving or running away.

As Striker One pulled his plane up, he hit the push to talk on his radio, "Sanctuary, Sanctuary, Striker Lead. Unable to identity unknown vessels! I never seen such ships before!"

"One! Break! Break! Break!" Suddenly a call cut into his comms and training took over as he jerked his stick, forcing the plane to roll away. "You are taking fire!"

"What the fark?" Striker One twisted left and right, looking out of his cockpit. He briefly saw a sudden blur flashing past under his wing before it was gone as his plane rosed into the air. "What is that?"

"Two, One," Striker One's radio buzzed. "They are shooting you with cannons! Engaging with guns!"

"One, roger!" The pilot looped his fighter back and repositioned into an attack angle. "Sanctuary! Striker Flight under fire! Engaging the enemy now!"

He could see the sunlight flickering off the glass cockpit of Striker Two as the plane dived down and smoke and casings trailed behind its wings as it opened fire.

Striker Two up from his attack run and suddenly it was Striker One's turn. The pilot gripped his stick tightly and lined its guns in the center of one of the dark red ships. He squeezed the trigger and stepped on his rudder controls, yawing his plane slightly as he strafed the deck of the ship.

He saw brief impacts of smoke and fire before his view changed to the skies as he pulled his plane out from the attack run. "Sanctuary to Strike Flight! Do not engage! Repeat, do not engage! Hold till reinforcements arrive! How copy?"

"Ah... shit!" Strike One leaned over his cockpit to look at the damage on the enemy. "Two, you heard that?"

"Two, yea... heard that..."

"Alright, break off and form on my wing," Striker One said. "Striker Lead, Sanctuary. Breaking off from the unknown attackers. Over."

"Sanctuary, roger. Continue the search for the Fury and keep an eye on the unknown vessels. Over."

"Striker Lead, roger."


Star Island

Inquisitor Mathias stood on the deck of the Innocence, watching the crew prepare the ship for liftoff while other crews were running about preparing other tasks. "Lord Inquisitor!"

He turned and found the Chief Paladin with some of the men holding two struggling female prisoners in their hands. "My Lord, we captured this woman and this demi being in the forest. There was one more female with her... another demi being... but she escaped."

The Chief Paladin held out a gloved hand and displayed a golden orb. "We found this on them."

"Yes..." Inquisitor Mathias stepped forward and gingerly took the orb from the soldier. "Yes... I can find the power... the chaos that is within it!"

"You said you found it on them?" Inquisitor Mathias turned his glance to the females.

"Yes, Lord," The Chief Paladin gestured to one of the females, dress in an unusual fashion. "It was found on her."

"She is not the one that ran from us..." Inquisitor Mathias said after looking at the female features. "A local here?"

The Chief Paladin nodded. "I think she speaks the ancient tongue too."

"Intriguing!" Inquisitor Mathias felt very curious. "Who are these people who speak the ancient tongue..."

"Lord Inquisitor!" The Captain of the Innocence suddenly appeared. "The ship is ready to lift off! We do not know when those strange flying craft will return. Your command?"

"We have gotten what we wanted!" He closed his fist over the golden orb. "Let us return to the Protectorate!"

A note from neo Koh

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Lots of comments regarding the lack of bodyguards~
1) Kaga and Takao are her bodyguards + aides
2) Show of faith (the leaders of the Isles when visiting the UN also did not bring guards along)
3) Dijon treats Sherene as a good friend/sister and Commander Ford knows that he will die to protect her, thats why he allowed Sherene to ride his ship without an escort (trust)
4) Also the trip is within Isles territory and takes less than a half a day for Isles ships and several hours by UN ships

Anyway, keep the comments coming! =D

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neo Koh


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