Cork watched the tall hooman walk away without another word towards the brightly lit hotel as if everything that had happened here was nothing to him. The black coated soldiers dragged the confused officers off towards a vehicle while the local police who just arrived were briefed by other MPs.
"S- Sir!" Krew suddenly called out and saluted the tall hooman who paused. "Sir, thank you for your assistance, Sir!"
The hooman just gave a brief nod of his head and he walked off, leaving behind an excited Krew and the girl with Cork. Krew grinned as he exclaimed, "Damn! That was so cool!"
"We should have asked for a transfer into the MPs instead!" Krew mimicked a shooting action. "He just shot that asshole in the face, just like that! Bam!"
"And you... little lady!" Krew turned to the thankful looking girl. "You shouldn't be in places like this!"
"Its... work..." The girl said with a lowered head. "I work as a bar girl there..."
"And your boss doesn't protect you?" Cork asked as he looked away from the disappearing back of the hooman.
The girl turned her head away before mumbling softly, "No... he... actually encourages us to... serve the customers... more... But I do not do it..."
"Damn!" Krew growled. "You should find another job!"
The girl gave an embarrassed smile before she bowed and said, "Thank you for both your help today! I... I need to return to work!"
"Take care of yourself!" Krew gave a wave before he groaned slowly as two MPs approached them. "Oh.. shit..."
"You two! And the girl!" The two MPs called out sternly. "Stay here! I need to record your statements!"
Cork gave a last glance in the direction of the hooman before he turned his attention back to the MPs asking questions. He had clearly felt a strong sense of killing rage from the hooman and he wondered who that person was to hold such anger inside.
Blake returned to the hotel and found Kaga and the hotel manager waiting for him at the reception. "All done?"
Kaga nodded and the manager brought them upstairs to the suites. Both suites were connected and each had two bedrooms and a living room. Blake and Kaga took one suite while the rest were occupied by the guards provided by Tavor.
After a quick shower, Blake sat at the sofa and spread out a stack of documents while Kaga sat timidly at the edge of another sofa. She has not seen this side of Blake, only remembering him to be very patient and friendly, not this cold and silent.
She had blamed herself all the while since Princess Sherene and Takao was taken away. She and Takao were supposed to be protecting Sherene but in the end, she was the one being protected. And worst still, the power of her tracking talisman has vanished months ago, deepening her guilt more.
"How do your talisman work?" A cold voice suddenly broke through her thoughts, making her flustered. She looked up from her hands and locked eyes with Blake and felt her soul falling into an abyss of guilt and she quickly averted her eyes away, unable to meet his eyes again.
"It... my... magic allows me to sense its direction..." She replied timidly. "I can... feel its... pull... the closer... I am to it..."
Blake gave a curt nod before he slid a small map across the table to her. Two lines were drawn with the centre originating from the Haven. "So you feel the pull roughing in this direction?"
Kaga shuddered as she recognized the map, as it was the work done by the scary hooman, Tavor, who grilled her for many many hours. "Yes... but four months ago... the pull of my magic... vanished..."
Blake took back the map and started sorting through other documents in silence. He flipped through the data provided by Tavor's Intel department and finally paused at the data from the probe. Images of the New World covered by a ring of clouds and even the Old World filed the folder.
He drew out an overhead snapshot of the Old World, where areas were highlighted showing cities, presumed borders and dozens of other information. The lands of the Old World were almost as big as Europe and Asia put together and the estimated territory of the Protectorate that was highlighted in red was about half the size of Europe.
Blake looked at another sheet of data which had some estimated numbers of populations and force depositions. He crunched the numbers in his head and leaned back on the sofa, looking up at the ceiling. The population numbers were very much on the high side, which surprised Blake. He knew the data Intel has gotten came from three youngsters and an old man, which had to be taken with a pinch of salt.
But knowing Tavor, the numbers he proved meant that there was a very high chance to be accurate, plus minus 10%. Blake let out a sigh as he considered the options in dealing with a new enemy that outnumbered his total population by over 1000 times. The current population of the entire UN was holding just barely over 65,000 with a third serving full time in the military.
20,000 men and women of the armed forces spread out within three main branches against the Protectorate which can throw at least a hundred times or more manpower with technology similar to the steam age of Earth and magic knowledge vastly superior to the inhabitants of the New World.
Weapon tech wise, Blake was very certain the UN was far more superior, but even so, overwhelming numbers have its own advantages when they can fire back. Unlike the war with the Empire where the majority of the deaths and injuries of the ground troops were taken from magic attacks rather than melee weapons, or from supped up overpowered artefact wielding madmen, facing a force that has weapons similar to guns will drastically increase the number of casualties with the UN forces.
"Should I get Matt to start on a nuke?" Blake mumbled under his breath as he pondered the ways to counter the enemies number. "Or intercontinental ballistic missiles?"
He let out a deep breath before realising that Kaga was still perched on the sofa like a frightened cat. "Go get some rest... Tomorrow will be a busy day!"
Sea of Clouds
Lightning flashed within the clouds and dark shapes pierced out from the wall of storm clouds one by one, leaving behind wisps of clouds and streaks of lightning arcing over flickering shields in their wake. One by one the airships formed up and headed towards the direction of the New World under the moonlit night.
United Nations, City of Hope, Hotel Crown, Ballroom
The ballroom was in a frenzy as dozens of hotel staff moved tables and chairs in from the stores. The hotel manager anxiously checked his staff's work as he wanted to leave a good impression on the VIP that appeared the night before.
Finally, the setting of the ballroom was done and the manager let out a sigh of relief but it soon changed with the storming of boots. He paled when he saw a small troop of soldiers carrying cases appearing at the ballroom and they placed the cases down on top of the carefully set tables.
A soldier came up to the manager and said, "Sir, we are here to use this room. We will appreciate if you do not let any guest or persons without authorisation come to this level."
"Guards will be placed at all points at this level," The soldier continued saying. "So please inform your guests not to come here or... they might be arrested."
"How about the food?" The manager asked, "The servers will have to set up the tables..."
"Inform us when the food arrives and we will direct you according," The soldier replied. "Now, if you please could excuse me, I got work to do."
The manager bobbed his head and wondered what gods did he offend to have such a big event appearing at his hotel before he hung his head and left the ballroom.
Not long after, Blake came down from his suite with Kaga in tow. The guards snapped to attention and cried out, "Attention on Deck!"
The soldiers paused in their work and stood at attention until Blake waved them back to their work. He sat down on the head of a long table and looked at the banks of display screens and turned to Kaga. "Who will be joining us today?"
"Y- You have a meeting with the Chiefs and Heads of department at 0900 hours..." Kaga checked her tablet. "After that at 1200 hours, a meeting with the Mayor of Hope... Then an hour break... after that..."
"Ok," Blake nodded and checked his watch, seeing there still sometime before the meeting with his staff. "Go get something to eat first."
When the time for the meeting came, the display screens lit up one by one and all his senior staff appeared online and they saluted Blake. "All here? Good, let's start. What is the plan of action everyone came up with?"
General Joseph cleared his throat and said, "Sir, our plan to push into the Eastern Coast will involve two stages."
"First, elements of the Army will be airdropped into the vicinity of the NKM's Frontier City," Joseph's image was replaced by a map with the city being highlighted. "The first wave of Army units will make camp outside the city while heavier units of the Army will be transported by water across the Source Sea."
"The Army will push in 50 kilometres inland here, to this area the locals called... Reachfield," Another location on the map was highlighted. "This location is relatively flat, perfect for an airbase."
"Once the Army has secured the area, engineers will move up and start constructing the base," Joseph said. "We expect the runways to be operational within the month if there are no problems."
"While that is going on," Joseph gestured to Commander Ford. "The Navy will push up along the Eastern Coast."
Commander Ford's image stood up and he said, "The Navy will conduct armed reconnaissance along the coast for any Protectorate presence."
"Intel believes that they had to be reinforcing their people here through the Dead Zone," Ford said. "If we can find the path they take through the clouds, my ships and aircraft will be able to take them down or capture them with the Marines."
"To facilitate all these, we plan to enlist the help of the Isles to provide resupply with their merchant fleet and their harbours," Ford added. "But... the relationship between our two nations had deteriorated over the months after the... incident..."
"Ignore the Isles," Blake said. "We don't need their help. But if they stand in our way... Allies or not... we will destroy them!"
The officers looked at each other uncomfortably before they slowly nodded in acknowledgement. Blake continued on as if he did not just declare war on another nation. "And the second stage?"
Joseph stood up and cleared his throat, "Erm... Once the land base is up, the Airforce will have enough reach to strike literally anywhere within the East Coast."
"The Army will push into with the Airforce in support, and we will clear the Protectorate forces whenever we encounter them."
Blake nodded, "Simple but I like it. Start mobilising the men!"
"We are going to war!"
United Nations, Fortress Singapore, Conference Room
Commander Ford had a deep frown on his face as he felt unsettled by the feeling he had from the Captain's change of character. He felt that Blake has suddenly changed too much, till the point of being cold and unfeeling.
He looked down at the mobilisation orders and sighed, thinking how many will die again this time due to the Captain's vengeance.