The UNS Vengeance rode the waves majestically as it pushed a modest speed of twenty one knots or thirty nine kilometres per hour steadily. Waves taller than a person parted before its three prows and the supercarrier barely even roll with the ocean. On both sides of the flight deck, two squadrons of Navy and Air Force aircraft were being readied for launch by a colourful group of crew hands.
Despite its seemingly stately presence, it was chaos inside the bowels of the supercarrier. Petty Officers and Boatswains yelled at the harried ratings and seamen as problems occurred here and there. A burst pipe here, rattling noises in the vents, lost of power in sections, blown fuses, clogged toilets and dozens of other problems.
At the main boiler room, Chief Matt watched nervously at the monitoring displays and dials of the experimental arcane reactor unit. The agitated heart of the fire elemental bubbled wildly within its containment tank, turning the water around it boiling and produced steam which turned the power turbines and generating electricity which powered the entire ship and its twelve propulsion screws.
Each hull also contained two secondary steam turbines as redundancy and provides additional power if required. Chief Matt gestured to the UNS Vengeance's Chief Engineer and said, "Bring her up to max power!"
The Vengeance's Chief Engineer nodded and he worked the lever up to the red zone. A current ran through the heart of the fire elemental, agitating it more, making its temperature raise. The engineers and techs overseeing the arcane reactor started calling out numbers and data as they monitored the ship's systems.
Chief Matt picked up a handset and connected to the bridge where his call was routed to Commander Ford. "Sir, the arcane reactor is holding fine. Power output is holding at expected levels."
"Keep on monitoring," Commander Ford replied. "There's multiple reports of burnt fuses and wiring... Hell, even the mess is complaining their drains are overflooding!"
"Well, Sir... That's why we run ship trials to find out all the things that went wrong during construction!" Chief Matt grinned. "Once I am confident with the boys in Engineering, I will go take look around the ship to see where I can help out."
United Nations, Haven, Fortress Singapore, Prisoner Deck
Blake stood silently behind the one way glass, watching the unconscious elf hooked up to a series of monitors, his hands and legs cuffed to the solid steel bed frame. Magic runes and circles covered the floor and ceiling, creating a magical null field within the medical cell.
Bruises turning yellow covered part of the once handsome looking elvish face, which was covered in ritualistic scars. Every surface of his face has been burnt and branded into some kind of pattern whose meanings only the people who did it knew.
Blake picked up a sealed bag holding the remains of the elf's broken white mask and turned it over, seeing the hundreds of tiny cruel barbs within it. He shook his head, wondering what kind of sick culture these people have.
"This will be a hard nut to crack," Lt Tavor spoke up from the side as he noted the Captain's interest in the mask. "People who ritually scar themselves and submit to pain constantly tend to be more resistant to torture and interrogation."
"Not to mention a religious fanatic," Lt Tavor added as he handed a file over to Blake. "Survivors from the local's IDed him to be some kind of... inquisitor type among the Protectorate."
"They say even his own troops feared him," said Lt Tavor. "And the number of atrocities he has committed among the local population would guarantee him a personnel spot in hell if there is a hell."
"Never judged you to be religious," Blake commented as he flipped open the file, skimming through statements from survivors. "Use any means you need to get any information out from him..."
"Any means?" Lt Tavor repeated. "You sure, Sir?"
Blake nodded as he turned away but Lt Tavor stopped him. "Sir, there is another matter I think you need to see."
Half an hour later, Blake stood behind the windows of an intensive care unit in the First General Hospital. Dr. Sharon stood beside him and gave him a quick brief, "The Marines found him inside one of the cells onboard the largest airship."
"He has suffered burns over 80% of his body," Dr. Sharon said. "And over two thirds of his body has his skin flayed away."
"His eyes were gouged out, tongue burnt off and ears cut off..." Dr. Sharon took a deep breath before she continued. "Even his genitals were cut off and all his nails removed."
"78 fractures and broken bones..." Dr. Sharon closed her eyes and put down the medical report. "It's surprising he's still alive till now..."
"Do we know who he is?" Blake asked as he looked at the bandaged figure that looked like a mummy on the hospital bed hooked up on life support.
"Well... we did a blood test and..." Dr. Sharon stared at Blake and said. "It's Dijon... We had taken his blood the last time he was here to test him for any virus or illness."
"Dijon?" Blake was surprised. "He's still alive?"
"At this stage, he's actually better off dead..." Dr. Sharon sighed. "The things they did to him... its... not just torture anymore..."
Blake turned back and stared at the figure of Dijon on the hospital bed, an unspeakable sense of hope surging up from his chest. "What are his chances?"
"Particularly none," Dr. Sharon said. "He's still alive now is due to a mix of magic and modern science..."
"Unless..." Dr. Sharon hesitated. "We put him in the regen tank..."
"BUT!" Dr. Sharon cut Blake off before he could say anything. "The chances are still fifty fifty!"
"If you want information about... Sherene..." Dr. Sharon stared into the eyes of Blake. "You might not get it in the end, as his mind might be destroyed by the... things they have done to him..."
"Also..." Dr. Sharon gave a warning. "Our regen fluids are nearly depleted... We only have enough for a couple more uses..."
"I understand..." Blake replied in a low voice. "Put him in the tank. W- I need to know..."
Dr. Sharon gave a nod and patted Blake's shoulder before she left to carry out her orders to move the patient to the advanced medical bay on Fortress Singapore. Blake turned his attention back to figure inside the ICU and whispered a soft prayer. "Please let her not suffer such a fate!"
The New World, Goblin Sea, UNS Vengeance
The blare of sirens faded off and the announcement that followed roused the crew out of their bunks and rushing to their stations as fast as they could. Both males and females from elvish, goblin, orc, and even trolls moved with familiarity through the numerous passageways and decks to their stations as they had drilled constantly in the past two days.
Already, the majority of the problems in the sea trials were fixed or marked for dock repairs in the two days they were out in the sea. Now the crew were roused up by sirens and they hurried with a sense of purpose which was not evident at the start of the voyage.
"All hands battle stations! This is not a drill!" The announcement ended as Commander Ford stared out of the armoured windows with a pair of binoculars. Radar has spotted four large objects in the air previously, and already two recon aircraft had been dispatch to investigate.
The Captain of the UNS Vengeance, an elf who captained the seaplane tender UNS Matador and now the new captain of the UNS Vengeance after the UNS Matador was scrapped. He had ordered an intercept course along the predicted course of the radar contacts, and using updates from the recon aircraft, adjusted their heading until they are now barely twenty kilometres away.
On both sides of the 'battleship deck' which the crew started calling the central hull, the flight decks were crowded with waiting Vipers and Cobras. The aircraft line up to the steam catapult launch and deck crews hooked the aircraft onto the launch cradle before stepped back before the goblin launch chief happily fired the aircraft into the air.
The Navy Sea Cobras, evident in their coat of navy blue colours, carried a pure anti ship loadout of 127 mm heavy rockets underneath their wings while the Air Force Vipers in their sky grey colours carried a mixture of 70 mm rockets and 20 mm gun pods. The roles of the Sea Cobras were the bombers while the Vipers were fighter escorts.
The four radar contacts were positively identified as airships of an unknown affiliation and the order from Captain Blake was to force their surrender or destroy them if they resist. Now, all three Sea Cobra squadrons and two Viper squadrons had launched off the dual decks of the Vengeance with one squadron of Vipers remaining above the supercarrier performing air patrols.
With two flight decks, the launch of all sixty aircraft was done quickly and the circling aircrafts formed up in their squadrons once all planes were up in the air. The fighter escorts took the front while the escort 'rode' above the three bomber squadrons formed in a chevron formation as they heading towards the unsuspecting air fleet.
Ford turned to the captain and said while tapping on the chart table. "Bring the ship towards Goblin city. If they show hostility to us, than those on the island would most likely be the same."
"We don't know which Old World Nation this fleet belongs to," Ford said. "If they are smart, they will follow our directions and return to Goblin City and stand down... for talks... If not... we can test our guns on them."
"Give word to the Marines to start prepping for an amphibious assault!" Ford added. "Now we wait and see what the other side will do!"
The New World, ???, Suugon Exploration Fleet, The Swordsman
Vice Admiral Zheng Sun was seated before a lacquer table that faced the crystal windows of his grand cruiser called The Swordsman. A hand written calligraphy scroll by the Emperor himself hung in a place of honour behind him with the words 'The Way of The Sword' written in a firm and bold brush strokes.
He could see the other two smaller cruisers beside his ship from the windows with the last vessel at his rear. His flotilla was dispatched out from the main fleet to scout around of the area and to find the mainland as clearly that island was just a very very small part of the New World.
He shook his head and stroked his long black beard as he recalled the minor unrest among the troops when they found a source of magic crystals, which caused infighting among them. In the end, the troops had to be punished severely for their loss of discipline and their commanding Lords admonished sternly by the Great General himself.
"My Lord!" A soldier appeared and placed his fists together and bowed. "Look out reports, a group of fast approaching flyers! The men have no idea what they are!"
Zheng Sun frowned and stood up, following the soldier out of the bridge and into the top open decks where the wind was negated by a simple magic barrier. He took the far seeing glass and followed the pointed hand of the soldier and focused on the group of flying objects with wings.
"What in the heavens are they?" Zheng Sun mumbled to himself, for they do not look like a drake nor even a dragon. "Are they from the Cartel?"
The flying cross shapes roared over his flotilla and some soldiers on the deck ducked reflexively as they came flying fast and low over the airships. Zheng Sun frowned as he stared at the ends of the fast flyers. "How can they fly so fast?"
"Lord!" Another flustered soldier came running up and held a long grey tube with a long piece of white colour dangling off one edge in his hands. "One of those flyers dropped this! It appears to be a message tube!"
Zheng Sun impatiently gestured the soldier to open it and he took the rolled scroll that was inside and read the barely eligible script written in the Iron Kingdom's language.
"Turn - ships back - island now - treated like - enemy - be destroyed immediately!"