UN, Haven, City Hall
Kage Whitetail's ears were fattened on the tops of her head. Her tail laid limp as she sat slouched over her desk, feeling dejected. She would periodically look up at the empty desk of Sherrene and Takao across the room and sighed sadly. A sudden knock on the door made her jumped up in alarm, her ears and tail standing erected as she cried out in a panicking voice, "Y- Yes?"
The admin lady looked at her in confusion at her before pushing in a cart filled with files and documents. The lady handed over a stack of documents to Kaga and was about to leave the office when she paused and asked in a low voice. "Say, Ms. Kaga..."
"Y- Yes?" Kaga patted her chest, trying to ease her racing heart. "What is it?"
"I haven't seen the Princess around for quite some time..." The admin lady leaned over and whispered. "Did something happened to her?"
"T- The Princess?" Kaga stammered. "N- no, no. She is fine... Just busy at with some work!"
"Hmm... I see..." The admin lady gave a shrug. "Well... They are all saying that she was lost at sea or captured by pirates!"
"T- That's... crazy!" Kaga felt her face turning red as she tried to deny the rumours. "N- Nothing of such things have happened! Hahaha... I- It's just rumours!"
The lady nodded, satisfied with her answer and waved goodbye as she wheeled the cart out. Kaga stared at the closed door for a moment before she started crying softly alone in the empty cold office.
She carefully removed a small wooden box from her drawer and slid the lid open. Inside was a piece of yellow paper, drawn with complex runes. The runes pulsed with a faint red glow like a heart beating. Kaga placed her index and middle finger onto the talisman and chanted softly, sending her mana into the rune words, making the runes glow brightly.
But after a short while, the glow of the runes dimmed till its barely visible. Kage rubbed the tears off her eyes as she could feel the connection between the tracer talisman was growing even weaker than yesterday. She closed the box back and placed back in her drawer and tears fell again.
"Big sis! Where are you?"
The Isles, Port Sanctuary, UN Naval Base
Ford looked at the estimated figures presented by the shipyard for the construction of the supercarrier and let out a deep breath. The costs, labour, and resources required were staggering, almost amounting to a year of the entire UN spending.
He accessed the encrypted database of the Treasury and compared their current reserves against the figures and his expression blanched. The supercarrier would empty the coffers of the Treasury and more. And it's not even counting the maintenance cost of running the damn thing later.
Ford couldn't make such a big decision by himself and he called his aide to arrange for a vehicle while he waited, he tidied up the documents and placed them into his briefcase. His aide knocked on his door to inform him that his vehicle was ready and waiting for him before Ford left his office. "To the Officer's Apartments."
The driver parked the Jeep at the corner of the block of apartment buildings for officers and Ford entered the building alone. He reached the Captain's door and knocked on it. "Captain?"
The door opened and to Ford's surprise, he saw the person who opened the door was Dr. Sharon. She gave a smile at Ford and invited him in. Ford entered and asked, "How is he?"
Dr. Sharon shook her head. "The same. At least he can fall asleep without nightmares now..."
"You need to get some rest," Ford replied as he noticed dark circles around her eyes. "You have that voice in your head and now you are even looking after the Captain... You need to watch your health too!"
"I know..." Dr. Sharon gave a yawn. "Since you are here, I will go get some rest then. I will send a nurse over to watch over the Captain."
"If there is anything," Dr. Sharon said at the door. "Call me. My room is just down the corridor."
Ford found the Captain laying on the sofa with his eyes closed. "Blake?"
Blake opened his eyes and took a glance at Ford before he closed them again and spoke in a hoarse voice. "What is it?"
"We might have a way to get across the zone," Ford said. "But..."
"Even if we have a way to cross the zone..." Blake sighed. "It's too late now... They are long gone."
"Richard..." Ford spoke in a soft tone. "They might still be alive and waiting for you to save them. Now we have some solution to finding them... Do you want to give up on that?"
Blake remained silent while Ford sat down and waited patiently. After a while of silence, Blake finally spoke again, "Tell me... more of this solution..."
Ford gave a victorious smile and quickly explained. "The goblins came up with a crazy idea of building a supercarrier, almost the size of a Zeus class Battle Carrier."
"It will be even larger and wider than the size of the UNS Singapore," Ford elaborated, removing out documents from his briefcase. "It will have a complement of eight thousand, enough berth space for a battalion of troops, fifteen squadrons of both fixed wing and rotor wing aircraft and all their service crew and pilots, and two flotillas of corvettes or transports."
"It will be powered by twenty four water tube hybrid boilers, eight on each of its three hulls, twelve propulsion screws and twelve steam turbines, four on each of its hulls," Ford said. "Calculated top speed at max load will be around 22 knots per hour or 40 km per hour."
"The design team had been constantly refining the design and its requirements ever since it was proposed," Ford said. "The ship will also have enough firepower to handle any giant sea monsters that get in our way and have enough mass to barrel through all kinds of rough weather."
Blake opened his eyes slightly as he listened to Ford's words and Ford was happy to see a glitter of life coming back to Blake. He pressed on, "Due to its immense size and scale, we will need thousands and thousands of workers to work on it."
"If work is done on it non stop on three shifts, the fastest completion date will be the first month of spring next year," Ford gave the estimated date. "And add in another two months of ocean trials, outfitting, and training... It will be fully operational by early summer."
"Summer of next year?" Blake closed his eyes again as he mumbled. "That is nine months from now..."
"Eh... Yes..." Ford replied awkwardly. "That is the fastest we can get it built... And... I need your approval for this..."
"Nine months..." Blake shook his head without opening his eyes. "I do not need to see the cost projections to know that this will bankrupt the treasury..."
"Give it up, Ford..." Blake spoke in a heartbroken voice. "She... They are gone... I know everyone is worried and cares for me... But we have to accept the fact that... she is gone..."
"The UN is not a toy," Blake continued in a sad voice. "It is home to thousands and thousands of people... We can't just use it for something that is lost... Just for... two persons... She won't have it that way either..."
"This is my karma... my punishment... my mistake for listening to her whims of not requiring any guards..." Blake's voice broke while he covered his eyes with his arm as tears trickled down the side of his face. "This is suffering is my atonement for my sins..."
Ford left Blake after he had drifted off in another drug induced sleep, leaving him with the nurse who came over to care for him. Ford sighed, feeling a surge of pent up frustration in his chest. He punched the wall fiercely, feeling the helplessness of their situation.
"FUCK!" He yelled out his frustrations. "Dammit! If the Captain thinks it's his fault that the Princess got kidnapped somewhere, then part of it is mine too!"
He fumed for a while before jumping into his waiting vehicle where his driver who witnessed his boss outburst cowered behind the wheel. "Back to HQ! Fast!"
"Yes Sir!" The driver jumped into action and drove the Chief of Naval Operations as quickly as he could to the Port Sanctuary Naval Base.
Ford stormed into his office and snapped his finger at his aides, "Call all heads of departments and Governors for an immediate conference! I want them all in attendance in thirty minutes!"
The aides seeing the dark expression on Ford's face quickly started calling everyone without any delay. Ford entered his office and sat down and waited for the screens on his desk to light up one by one as the various heads and Governors started coming online.
Once all the mini screens on Ford's display were filled up with people's images, he headed straight to the point. "Everyone of you here knows about the situation with the Captain and the Princess, so I will not go into details. Right now, I am holding the highest authority now that the Captain is ill."
"I call everyone here today is to talk about our current problem," Ford stared at his display fiercely. "I want to call for a vote to declassify the news lockdown on the Princess."
The multiple faces on his display showed various degrees of surprise and confusion. The Governor of Falledge, Otoro's image, asked, "But why? Won't it panic the public? This news will push the prices of goods up!"
"We have a project..." Ford explained. "And this project will take a lot of resources and money to come to fruition. It might bankrupt... the UN..."
"What?" Otoro's eyes were wide. "How massive is this project?"
"Very massive..." Ford replied. "But it is the only way we have to cross the zone to bring back the Princess..."
"Now some of you might think that the Princess is just one life..." Ford quickly said. "But... To the Captain... it is his lifeline... And you all know what the Captain did for everyone..."
"That is why the people need to know that Princess was taken..." Ford added. "And because of that, the Captain has fallen ill..."
"I think... its time for the people to do something for the Captain and Princess after what they had done for them!" Ford said. "If the people are willing to work support this project..."
"I think it might work," Intelligence Officer Tavor spoke up. "There's been a lot of rumours lately in regards to the Princess and the Captain's disappearance from public view. The people are worried."
"I think so too!" The other heads of departments started voicing their agreements. "I agree!"
Otoro's image frowned before he said, "It might cause a recession later on..."
"And with the threat of refugees storming our borders..." He continued voicing his unease. "Is this wise to burn all our resources on something that might not... succeed?"
Ford nodded, "I understand your worries. This is already our home... But when someone comes to your home and kidnaps your wife or kids... What will you do?"
"I- I will be willing to use everything to find them back..." Otoro replied in a low voice. "I- I understand... I vote to agree too..."
"Good!" Ford smacked his fist on his table. "Tavor! I want press releases to be released to the Propaganda and News outlets by tomorrow morning!"
"Everyone else, brief and prepare your staff for the shit storm that is coming!" Ford said. "I want the news to remind the people what the Princess and the Captain have done for them and the nation they are now living in! It's time they do something for them!"