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Skies between Sea of Clouds and the Iron Kingdom

The skies around the border were filled with plumes of black smoke and grey clouds as the battle raged on. Steam leaked out from ruptured pipes and armour plates of the airships as they circled around the large red coloured airship, trying to get the upper hand over each other.

Suddenly, one of the Iron Kingdom smaller airships, too slow to turn or its propulsion systems too damaged, got caught within the firing arcs of the Protectorate's broadside. Instantly, the side of the hull of the Protectorate ship disappeared into a cloud of steam as its steam cannons fired.

Caught in the vicious cannon fire, the Iron Kingdom airship shuddered in midair as it suffered several direct hits. For a moment, it seemed that the airship managed to shake off the damage, but suddenly, its middle section bulged out and pieces of armour plating and broken parts rained down.

Smoke and trails of steam erupted out from the airship as it fell suddenly like a rock and seconds later, it smashed into the ground below and balls of flames and smoke erupted out from its crumpled hull.

The remaining three Iron Kingdom airships, enraged by another death of their own. renewed their fire at the badly battered Protectorate airship. The once smooth and oblong hull of the Protectorate airship was now covered in dents and holes. Weakened plates of armour fell off as wadcutter shots hammered the boltings off.

The Protectorate airship could barely move as majority of its aerial screws had been shot off. It lumbered on its axis as like a drunken boxer, trying to hit its more agile opponents which constantly danced out of its deadly broadside weapons' arcs.

The Commodore of the Iron Kingdom squadron, noting that the Protectorate airship's armour was mostly stripped off its hull and its wooden innards exposed, ordered his ships to switch to incendiary bolts.

The cannoneers instead of using iron capped plug shots switched out to plug shots which has a small hole in the middle of its rounded head. The cannoneers next carried over a thick and short ballista bolt. Behind the broad head of the ballista bolt was five clay tubes filled with flammable liquid secured around the bolt. A simple spring based flint and striker was attached behind the clay tubes, and upon heavy impact, the flint and striker will produce sparks, which will ignite the spilled flammables.

The base of the incendiary bolt was covered in screw threads and taped down to a point. A crossbar sat above the screw threads, which allowed cannoneers to screw the bolt into the plug shot. Once the incendiary bolt was screwed in, the cannoneers ran the steam cannon out of the gunports as they waited for the order to fire.

Once all the cannons were ready to be fired, the men waited with anticipation and vengeance in their eyes for the order to fire. The order to fire seemed to take forever to the sweating men as the crouched in the hot cannon decks.

And finally, the order came down, and the men roared out their frustrations and fears, together with the roaring of the steam cannons.

Nine incendiary bolts wobbled in the air as they arched over to the target. The crossbars of the bolts acted like vanes as they spun the bolts gently in the air, stabilizing their flight before plunging into the hull of the Protectorate airship.

Over half of the bolts missed and another half of the remaining bolts that impacted on the Protectorate airship's hull bounced off the armour plates or shattered their flammables uselessly on the side of the hull.

Only two bolts managed to punch through the armourless gaps, their broadhead tips nailing the bolts to the wooden structure beneath the armour. The shock of the impact flung the clay tubes forward and they shattered over the wood and metal.

At the same time, the force of the impact rammed the striker against the piece of flint hard, striking a burst of fiery sparks which rained over the spilled flammables. Instantly, the flammables caught fire and a ball of flames burst out from the side of the Protectorate airship.

The bridge crew of the IK Iron Maiden cheered as they saw the sight. Even the Commodore broke into a fierce grin. The battle had lasted for over a good three turns of the sandglass, which finally his squadron had finally dealt a critical hit at the price of two frigates and countless lives of the squadron.

"Kill it!" The Commodore ordered fiercely. "Revenge our fallen brothers and sisters! For the Glory of the Iron Kingdom!"

With his order passed down, the remaining airships of the 149th Squadron continued to hound the crippled Protectorate airship, their steam cannons aiming at the exposed internals of the airship. More and more incendiary bolts hammered their way into the Protectorate airship's innards and finally, after a long and tense battle, the Protectorate ship seemed to give a sigh as it lurched in midair as its boilers blew up, spewing steam, flames and smoke out from its broken sides.

The once mightly Protectorate airship sank down from the clouds rapidly before it hit nose first to the ground, its full weight without the support of aetherium folded inwards, and more explosions erupted from its crumpled carcass as it laid burning on the fields, surrounded by smoking debris.

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United Nations, Goblin Coast, Site of New Port Facilities, The City of Hope

Flakes of snow drifted down heavily and the whole world was blanketed in a layer of whiteness. Yet, despite the dark and cold, a city glowed even under the overcast clouds that blocked out the sun. To the new immigrants who once took shelter in the winter months, the heavy snow, cold and dark days were not the time to be caught outside unless having to deal with issues of great importance, as it would mean certain death by freezing.

But their logic was overturned as the city or what parts of the city that had been constructed was running normally. Stores and markets were still opened, rows of lamps lit up the streets and houses, casting away the darkness.

People hurried up and down the streets, while others rode on buses and vehicles to their destination. There was a sense of determination and purpose to the people's action in the city. The once hopeless and desolated air around the city had changed, as people started to feel a sense of achievement and hope.

The land once wild had greatly changed, the trees and foliage were cut down and a huge stretch of land was flattened and quartered out. The tent city which occupied one corner of the development was also torn down as the people were moved into rows and rows of apartment blocks just in time for the onset of winter.

The new immigrants had thought they will be living in the cold in the tents but to their surprise and amazement, the 'kon creed' buildings were built rapidly. Construction of housing in their knowledge tends to be shabby unless you build it yourself or paid a lot of money to well known masons and carpenters.

But the use of the strange grey powder that hardens within a turn of glass, bricks, and magic greatly astonished the refugees by the speed the buildings were constructed. They had never seen parts of a house already constructed at another area and brought in ships and transported by those large metal wagons.

The new immigrants consisted mainly of females, the young and the old, as most of the men were either dead in the war or still serving the remaining Lords of the shattered Empire. Yet, there was ample work for them in the strange nation that promised them homes and security.

Womenfolk were being hired to work in 'factories' or workshops, which was predominantly a male trade in their previous homes. In their culture, womenfolk was only good for tending the house or working in the farms while the men sought tradecraft or apprenticeship.

Yet, this strange nation, not only offered them work, and even housing! But the prerequisite was they needed to attend classes which they had to learn some kind of new language and other basic knowledge like maths and science.

Another thing that surprised the new immigrants, was that the young were not allowed to work till they turn sixteen of age. Before that, they were required to attend mandatory classes teaching things that only nobles could ever afford to do so!

Even the elderly were given jobs from teaching positions to cooks and childcare. Slowly, the once empty land started to spring up buildings and in a short span of two months, a small city had grown up with straight and neat streets and orderly rows of houses.

At the water edge, work on the port had also come to close as the foundations were laid out and work was going on under the cover of the roofed dry docks. Other areas that require the pouring of concrete was put on hold till the cold winter months were over and work could only be done under shelter from the snow.

Yet, the massive dry dock that was partially completed already had the skeletal frame of the first of the trimaran supercarrier's hull. The work crew consisting of a mixture of both male workers from Far Harbour and the new immigrants who were mostly female.

The new immigrants' workers were taught about welding and basic shipwright techniques which enabled them to work on the hull. Sparks and the music were constantly coming from the dry docks as goblin shipwrights yelled and cursed at the stupidly of the elves working non stop in three shifts around the clock.

The new immigrants' were once frightened by the goblins but slowly they realised that these goblins were different from the goblins that feasted on people's flesh. And the goblins themselves were even insulted if they were compared to the feral goblins roaming the Uncharted Forest as they referred to themselves as 'superior civilised enlightened' goblins that worshipped the Machine Gods, unlike the ferals goblins who worshipped pagan gods of bone and stone!

Every day, parts and components for the strange giant ship was being shipped in by transport ships which also brought other materials and resources for the growing city. To the new immigrants' surprise, there were no land being prepared for farming of crops, and instead food was constantly being shipped in from the ships.

At first, they were worried about the cost of the food, but later they found out that the food price was strictly controlled by the Government, which eased many of their fears. But still, there was a flicker of unease in their hearts about food to tide them over for winter till the arrival of canned goods totally turned their world concept upside down again.

Food that can be kept for years in a metal container that cost just slightly more the same as fresh food from the market and can be eaten without cooking? First, to them, the use of metal was already an idea of extreme extravagant and waste! In their lifetimes, if a farm has tools made out of metal, it could be considered as a well to do farm! Yet now, metal containers were used to store food and the price for that was not even anything beyond their means!

Next, even dried and salted food could the most be kept for a few months or longer in ideal conditions, yet, the food inside a metal container could be held for years and taste good? It was unbelievable as it sounds!

The new immigrants could only slowly adapt to the fast pace of changes that came into their lives as they struggled to live in the new place which they were slowly calling home. And this city was their hope.

A city called Hope.

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