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United Nations, Fortress Singapore, Naval Intelligence Department

The office to the Naval Intel was buried deep within the bowels of the crashed ship. One has to clear several strict security checkpoints before they can gain access into the most secretive department of the entire UN military.

Yet despite the ultra secretive nature of Naval Intel, the office was surprisingly normal. Rows of desks and filing cabinets reintroduced to the department to help cope with the numerous amount of paperwork which made the office look like very normal, just like any other offices. Each desk was occupied by an information analyst as they pour through each article of data or rumour, determining their authenticity.

In another room, it had dozens of monitors and displays and a crew of operatives watching and reviewing more data. And the only difference compared to other departments was that the entire Naval Intel office was staffed purely by human only. The Intel office was the only part of the entire Naval Intelligence department to be staffed by the human race, the rest of the Naval Intelligence, be it field agents or its security forces, were the mix of other races, predominately elves.

First Lieutenant Tavor sat in his office cubicle going through the photos and data downloaded from the probe. He was the only one out of the original crew that did not want to get promoted but was the only one with the lowest rank to run one of the most feared departments within the UN military.

The three years worth of meteorological data downloaded from the probe was baffling and scary to Tavor at the same time. What made him feel a sense of unease was the unnatural ring of storm clouds surrounding the New World which they were in. No one could explain it with science, not even Dr. Sharon with her extensive knowledge beyond her own field of studies.

What Tavor could only theorize was that the ring of storm clouds was an event caused by some power very arcane methods or even by some God. And that thought made him very uncomfortable as he did not know why was the New World surrounded by the ring of storm clouds.

Could the storm some kind of barrier to protect the continent or worse could it be used to keep something in?

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The Old World, Capital of the Iron Kingdom, Royal Palace

The group of old men seated around the long table had grave expressions as they waited in silence for the person seated at the head of the table to speak. The person at the head of the table had worn a plain iron circlet on his shortly cropped greying hair. He had a look of a griffin, his green eyes still sharp and clear despite his age of over fifty, looking over his sharp nose at the scroll held before him.

His once handsome features had sagged due to age and wrinkles covered his leathery face. Finally, he set the scroll on the table and gave a sighed as he looked around the table at his ministers and asked in a tired voice. "What do you all think the Protectorate is planning?

"My King," The minister of war was a grizzly looking bear of an elf. He had a black leather eye patch covering his left eye, which was lost in the course of his service to the Iron Crown. "The damn religious fanatics must have found something beyond the Sea of Clouds for them to send in such a massive force!"

"We agree too!" The rest of the ministers muttered their agreement. "They must have found a way through!"

"In our records, we do know that beyond the Sea of Clouds, lies a virgin land..." The Royal Historian replied in a wheezy voice. The Royal Historian stroke his long white beard and said, "Over three hundred years or so ago, our ancestors disembarked on an ocean voyage together with five allied nations to search for new land and resources!"

"But as fate would have it," The Royal Historian sighed deeply. "They vanished and none returned... Since that incident, no other efforts nor attempts had been sent into the Sea of Clouds ever again..."

"Especially after aetherium was discovered, interests in the virgin land and its resources waned" The wizardly historian explained. "Shortly after... the First Aetherium War started and everyone forgot about the fleet..."

"With all nations and kingdoms vying for the resource..." The Royal Historian continued. "No one paid any more attention to the New World, named by the explorers. And it was also then the term Old World was given to our lands..."

"Does this means..." The King narrowed his eyes, "The Protectorate has discovered a way through the Sea of Clouds and is aiming for the unclaimed New World for themselves?

"Sire, that is highly possible!" A minister exclaimed. "W- We can't allow the Protectorate to take over the New World! The status quo of the Seven Great Nations are barely maintained on a fine balance!"

"If the Protectorate acquires what resources and land on the New World..." The minister paled. "The status quo will be broken! War will engulf the Old World again!"

"He is right!" The War Minister pounded his fist against the tabletop. "We must immediately dispatch ships to the New World to prevent the spread of those crazy judgement lovers!"

The King frowned and said in a deep voice. "If we send our ships into the Sea of Clouds... What are their chances of making it across without harm?"

The ministers looked at each other before they turned to the War Minister who turned red with embarrassment. He looked around for help before he hung his head low and replied in a low voice, "Eh... this, my King... I... am not sure..."

The King sighed inwardly before he leaned forward from his Iron Throne. "Go find out!"

"Order all our spies within the Protectorate to find out what they are planning!" The King ordered. "Also ready our troops, but do it quietly!"

"Have the rest of our spies to watch what the rest of the Seven are doing!" The King added. "This matter might lead to another great war..."

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The New World, Occupied City of Hensink, Protectorate of Ramuh

Red flags and banners adorned the city walls and roofs of the entire city. Gangs of workers worked on the city walls under the direction of the Protectorate, reinforcing the walls to the specification given. Dozens of wooden framed cranes were constructed on the wall tops, hoisting strange contraptions formed out of strange pipes and barrels.

Protectorate cavalry, riding horned drake mounts which looked like horse sized rhinos, patrolled the land beyond the city in large troops, capturing any locals they came across. The captured people, be it, bandits or innocent people were all brought back to be converted by the Redeemers and Judges. Those that reject the teachers of Ramuh were displayed and burnt at stakes.

The converts after getting baptized and indoctrinated to the teachings of Ramuh were then made to work in whatever the Protectorate wanted them to do. Bit by bit, all vestiges of the previous regime was wiped out and a whole new look appeared over the city.

Just beyond the city, a large swath of forest was being chopped down, the wood was taken back to be processed into charcoal for the furnaces and boilers of the Protectorate. At the same time, a strange structure was slowly being constructed by the Protectorate's settlers. A tall grain silo like structure that towered over the city walls easily was slowly being erected up by the Protectorate.

The locals clearing the forest could only steal fugitive glances at the strange structure from afar but dared not raise any questions nor curiosity, in case their curiosity caused the Protectorate soldiers to whip them, or even worse, they get sent to the Inquisition!

Back at the docks, a dozen support airships filled with tribute, rose up one by one from the ocean as hot aetherium gases floated their float tanks. Seeing the airships floating in the air, the local population could only cower in fear and prayed hard to their new God for salvation.

The dozen support airships once assembled, turned north east and headed away. The airships slowly made their way towards the Sea of Clouds for another month of travel back to the Protectorate to pick up more supplies, settlers, and soldiers.

Inquisitor Rism lounged on a sofa, drinking the finest wine offered up from the previous city lord's cellars. He half listened to his aides reporting their progress of their conquest of the New World, before he waved his hand to pause his aides. "Enough, just tell me how long more before The Reckoner becomes complete?"

"It shall take another four days, my Lord," The aide replied.

"Too slow!" Rism grumbled. "The reassembly of the Reckoner must be completed within two days!"

The aide stammered in protest, "My Lord! Th- That is impossible! It-"

"It shall be done!" Rism flicked a dismissal wave of his hand at the aide. "Make it so, or you can join them..."

"Y- yes my Lord!" The aide gave a quick frightened bow before he retreated in panic.

Rism sighed as he glanced out the windows of the castle. "Such a waste, that we did not find out about this land..."

"Oh well, I guess that Mathias did me a favor after all, by discovering this land!" Rism grinned. "Too bad, he isn't here to enjoy all these!"

Rism laughed as he leaned back on the sofa, his soft leather boots scattering the stacks of fat gold coins on the low table as he propped up his feet. The mountain of gold and silver ware, jewellery and coins covered the entire room. All the wealth was 'donated' to the Protectorate by the locals for their missionary efforts.

"The stupid lawless still do not what has come to their land! Once the Reckoner is completed... they shall know the holy power of Ramuh!"

-----

United Nations, Haven, Captain's House on the Hill

Blake sat on the edge of the bed, staring blanking at the bottle of pills on his table. Slowly, his eyes flickered over to the stack of photographs and documents left behind by Ford on his visit a few days ago. He took a deep breath before he stood up and picked up the bottle of anti depressions and with a determined hand, he opened his drawer and dropped the bottle in before closing the drawer firmly.

He decided to lay off the anti depressions as it fumbled his mind. The pills helped numb the pain and memories but left his mind slow, making everything seemed 'floaty'. For now, he needed his wits and mind to be alert to digest the information on the documents.

With a shaky hand, he picked up the photograph showing the ring of storm clouds surrounding the New World and he frowned before he set it down and turned the pages of the report. After read through the reports twice, he rubbed his tired eyes and exhaled out deeply, thinking of all the changes that had occurred since he was incapacitated in the past several months.

He took a glance at the wedding portrait of him and Sherene and feel a pang of pain in his heart. Maybe deep inside, he had already given up hope on finding her alive after so long. Or maybe, he did not want to face the truth nor the reality that she might no longer be in this world, hence he did not give any support to the super carrier project.

But looking at the hopes of the entire nation working tirelessly on the super carrier for they still believed Sherene was still alive, made his eyes watered. He blinked his tears away and sat down before his work desk and logged in to the system and started checking on the reports on the super carrier.

Looking at the progress made on the super carrier slowly gave him hope again, maybe, just maybe he might find an end to the darkness growing inside his heart.

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A note from neo Koh

Advance chapters are available on Pat-reon
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Was busy in hospital this couple of days for my regular medical checkup ... Felt like I was feeding some vampire with all the blood taken!!! 


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neo Koh

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