Airspace over the edge of the End Zone
A seagull winged twin engined plane buzzed lazily in the air just beyond the boundary of a thick layer of grey clouds. The plane kept to its course steadily as it patrolled the edge of the End Zone when it spotted a ship drifting on the waters.
"Is that ours?" The spotter crew onboard the FB - 1 Mariner trained their binoculars as the pilot brought the plane down for a low flyby of the unknown ship. "It's the missing Slayer!"
"Any word on the radio?" The pilot asked as he circled the plane around the quiet ship when a red smoke trail shot out from the ship and burst into a bright star before fading away. "Flare!"
"Nothing! No answer on the comms!" The radio operator replied. "I think their comms are down!"
"They look pretty banged up!" The spotter reported as he glued his face to his binos at the viewport. "I can see the crew!"
"Alright! Tell HQ we found our missing ship!" The pilot said as he broke off from circling the ship and dropped their altitude and reduce the throttle. "I am bringing her down! Everybody, brace for landing!"
The flying boat hit the choppy seas somewhat gently as the pilot used all his skill to avoid slamming into a wave and flipping the plane and its crew into the water. The flying boat crested the waves as its prop engine pushed the flying boat towards the UNS Slayer.
"Ahoy there!" The crew of the Slayer called out happily at the sight of the flying boat. "Our comms and engines are down!"
"Do you need any medical help?" The flying boat crew called out back as they climbed out of hatches and exchanged information. "HQ has been informed and they will be sending help!"
"Thank the heavens!" The Captain of the Slayer finally gave a relaxed smile as he heard that help was coming. They had sprung a leak in the fuel bunkers from their brief airborne adventure but luckily they managed to make their way out of the End Zone before their fuel ran out.
Furthermore not only did they sprung a leak, but the ship's hull was so badly shaken that the radio mast broke off too. Without fuel for the boilers, there was no power throughout the ship, meaning that all electronic systems could not function. Things like refrigeration and water converters could not work and even with magic, their food and water could not last for long.
The Captain watched his crew celebrate joyfully and he turned and looked back towards the dark gloomy End Zone. He could see a small trail of shimmering oil left behind from their wake and shuddered as the horrors of the End Zone has yet to leave his mind.
United Nations, Goblin Coast, Site of New Port Facilities
A large tent city had sprung up next to the site of the planned city and docks. Every day, land convoys and transport ships brought in new workers, settlers, food and materials to the site. Already land that has been cleared where being divided up to areas for residential, commerce, and industrial.
"Looks like everything will be according to schedule..." Letts, the head of Construction and Development said to Ford. They stood at the window of a temporary office building that oversees the city and port construction. "The port will be our priority. Already we are having our smaller yards at Far Harbor working on components for the supercarrier..."
Ford nodded as he took in the hive of activity before him. "Twenty thousand men and women, working in three shifts..."
"It's just how amazing what people can do with they put their hearts and souls into it..." Ford mumbled. "Are there any issues so far?"
"Sanitation..." Letts replied immediately. "And access to clean potable water."
"Some of the new settlers are crapping all over the place!" Letts sighed. "I have teams of teaching ambassadors roaming the grounds and trying to teach those people what to do and what not to do!"
"But still the cleaners are complaining that there is shit everywhere!" Letts complained. "If this goes on, and the filth gets into the groundwater, we will have an epidemic on the grounds!
"Do what you need to enforce cleanliness on the grounds," Ford replied. "And what about water?"
"We have wells dug currently, but with assholes shitting everywhere..." Letts sighed again. "The water is full of harmful bacterial. And most of the settlers are drawn from the refugee pool, so they barely have any knowledge of how to treat water."
"I already had a couple of treatment plants up and running, but without piping, the settlers are not boiling the water properly," Letts explained. "I am planning to force close all the wells and force the settlers to get water from designated points. Already several dozen medical cases of bad runs are being reported!"
"As I said, do what you need to," Ford said. "You can make the decisions on these matters yourself."
"Sure I will!" Letts nodded before he lowered his voice and asked. "So... how's the Captain?"
"He's..." Ford let out a deep breath. "Still not recovered yet... The loss of the Princess... hit him pretty badly..."
"Damn..." Letts grimaced. "Those fuckers are gonna pay!"
"Yes... but... we have to wait till the supercarrier is built..."
"Sir, priority call for you Sir!" Ford's aide notified Ford from the door of the office. "The call is waiting for you on board the Goblin, Sir!"
"Got it," Ford nodded before he turned to Letts. "Keep up the good work. The whole nation is watching..."
He left the office and followed his aide down to the temporary floating docks used by the UN ships for offloading of cargo and personnel. He boarded the corvette to the whistle of the bosun and a small colour party, saluting the flag of the UN and returning the salutes of the officers.
He was led to the Captain's cabin where the computer display was already up and running. "This is Commander Ford."
"Sir," Tavor's image came into view and he greeted Ford. "Just got a report off an aerial patrol. We found our missing ship."
"The Slayer?" Ford asked. "They made it back?"
"Barely in one piece," Tavor shook his head as he started to read off the list in his hand. "It was found drifting just beyond the edge of the End Zone, with multiple hull fractures, flooding in the below decks, leak in the fuel bunkers, comms mast down, six deaths and every single other crew in various levels of injuries."
"That bad?" Ford winced. "And how far did they made it through the zone?"
"Based on ship's records and black box," Tavor replied. "Barely sixty kilometres before they encountered a giant whirlpool and I quote the Captain of the Slayer, barely made it out with the skin of his teeth."
"And there is also the sightings of giant monsters by multiple crew members, despite nothing being shown on the surface radar which is messed up by a ton of white noise," Tavor said. "Most probably caused by the perpetual storm."
"And the data sonar suggested that the whirlpool they had encountered had the size of roughly a hundred and seventy meters in diameter..." Tavor continued his report. "From the data gathered from the Slayer, we estimate the current of the whirlpool to be around thirty kilometres per hour or 16 knots at the edges and probably up to fifty kilometres per hour or 26 knots closer to the epicentre."
"As for how these whirlpools are formed," Tavor shook his head. "We have no idea without more data or research..."
"Damn thing is almost three times the length of our corvette and even has a current faster than our top speed?" Ford rubbed his face in disbelief. "What kind of fuck up place is that?"
Tavor could only give a shrug. "To that question, not even Dr. Sharon nor Magister Thorn could answer you."
"Dammit... Send the full report over... I will go over it later..." Ford sighed. "Carry on."
Tavor's image gave a salute before the display flickered to a no signal message. Ford left the cabin and headed up the bridge where the Marine sentry announced his entry. He returned the salutes of the watch crew and went out to the bridge wings where the strong sea breeze immediately tugged at his clothes and hair.
The cold breeze helped clear his preoccupied mind, and from his vantage point, he could see hundreds and hundreds of tiny figures working on the land, digging and filling the foundations of what would be the greatest shipyard ever built in this part of the world or even the entire world.
The Isles, First City of the Fleet, Council of Masters
"Do we allow our blood and sweat to be just taken away from us?" Fleet Master Megan asked in a passionate matter to the audience. "Our forefathers had spent hundreds of years to ensure our generation and our future generation to have the wealth and prosperity we enjoy today!"
"But now..." Fleet Master Megan lowered her long eyelashes, putting on a sad expression. "Our young and talents are leaving our beloved islands in doves... All seeking new opportunities with our ally, the United Nations..."
"The United Nations has done nothing wrong," Fleet Master Megan sighed. "It is just that we, ourselves are allowing our young and talented people to leave our islands..."
"I think we should put an end to this..." Megan said firmly. "At this rate, our economy will be in the hands of the United Nations!"
"All our hard work will be taken away from us," Megan looked around the Council Chambers. "In no time, we will become slaves ourselves! Slaves to the United Nation's economy!"
"Ahem..." The First Fleet Master cleared his throat before he spoke. "I think everyone understands your point."
"Now, all in favour of Fleet Master Megan's propose to impose trade sanctions and limitations to the United Nations..." First Fleet Master Kose said in a serious voice as he looked around the chamber. "Please cast your votes!"
"Wait!" Fourth Fleet Master Akron raised his gloved hands up before saying, "We have one missing seat... I propose we first fill that missing seat first before we vote on Fleet Master's Megan's proposal!"
"Fleet Master Dijon's fate is yet to be determined!" Fifth Fleet Master Marshal, the eldest among the Fleet Master stormed. "How can you ask to replace him?"
"I am sorry, Fleet Master Marshal," Fleet Master Akron adjusted his golden monocle before replying. "It has been over a month... I am afraid..."
"You!" Marshal slammed his fists on the table. "Do not curse his death!"
"Enough!" First Fleet Master Kose glared at everyone. "Well, it pains me to say this... Fleet Master Akron... is right. It is time to find a replacement for Dijon!"
"But!" Fleet Master Marshal did not give up. "He could still be alive!"
"Could be dead too," Fleet Master Megan said with a sad expression. "Whether he is alive or dead... We shall not forget him! And I believe he will not want us to cause the Isles to break apart?"
"I say we nominate a new Fleet Master!" Megan declared.
First Fleet Master Kose nodded, "Than we shall first nominate a new Fleet Master."
"I shall nominate the Guild Master of the Merchant's Guild, Mr Tediore Bannerhall," Megan said while Fleet Master Akron gave the same nomination.
"Captain Goska Even," Fleet Master Marshal growled. "Second in Command of the Home Fleet!"
The other minor council members started casting their votes and nominations too and before long, the numbers of nominations and votes were tallied up and First Fleet Master looked at the name on the parchment in his hand with a serious expression.
"For the position of the third Fleet Master seat... Mr Tediore Bannerhall will take over ex Fleet Master Dijon as he was given the most confidence by the Council!"