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The Isles, The First City of the Fleet, Council of Masters' Chamber

The atmosphere was heavy as each Fleet Master was trying to come out with a plan to the recent news. The reports of sightings of a fleet of flying ships by merchants and fishermen had rattled the people and now all the Fleet Masters and anyone of importance had gathered in the Council Chamber to come out with a course of action.

First Fleet Master Kose Torke pulled his long jacket of office over his body as he felt cold. Recently the sea breeze has made his old bones ache easily and with the death of Dijon, made him age greatly. His greying hair and beard had now turned completely white in less than a year and his eyes sunken in. He looked to the side where Fleet Master Marshal, who too was already old and had already planned to retire in a year or so after grooming a successor to his seat.

Next, he turned to look at the other side of the table, where Fleet Master Akron and Fleet Master Tediore sat, clearly on the side of Fleet Master Megan. He knew without Dijon around to curb the ambitious Megan, and with his failing health, sooner or later, the seat of First Fleet Master would go to Megan.

He let out a soft sigh as clearly those two Fleet Masters were waiting for Megan to speak and support whatever scheme she came up with. Rather than drag things out as he was feeling tired and wanting to return to his own estate to rest, he started the discussion. "So... no one has any idea or plans of how we should respond to this... flying fleet coming towards us other than preparing the people for an event of war?"

"We all know what happened to the Meccan city up north..." Fleet Master Marshal spoke in a raspy voice. "There is a very chance the flying ships are hostile... I said... we ask the United Nations for help... since they managed to defeat those flying ships..."

"Hahaha!" Fleet Master Megan let out a mocking laugh as she snapped her fan open and covered her lips. "Oh... How the mighty has fallen..."

Fleet Master Marshal's eyes narrowed as he glared at Megan. "What do you mean?"

"Nothing," Megan gave a shrug as she fanned herself. "Just that... the once mightly Isles' navy could no longer even protect the Isles without needing the help of outsiders!"

"We are allies!" Marshal growled. "And that is a force with magic and tek no lo gee that out surpass our very own!"

"That is why I said how the mighty has fallen..." replied Megan nonchalantly. "We were once great... but now... any force comes up to our doorsteps we run off to our 'ally' to ask for help..."

She let out a dramatic sigh and shook her head, "And what has our ally done for us?"

"They taught us tek no lo gee!" Marshal answered fiercely. "Engines! Making our ships able to travel against the wind! Medicine! New ways of farming! Education!"

"HAHAHAHA!" Megan laughed loudly in response to his answers. "Those are just... the dregs they gave to us... and even at a cost of our produce! And yet... you sound so grateful for picking up their discards? Does getting old make you become a scavg hound?"

She referred to the four legged beasts that looked like a cross between a Terran rat and dog which scavenges midden heaps and trash. She cast a look of scorn at Marshal whose face turned red with fury. "Do you think we would need their help if they had actually shared their REAL tek no lo gee with us?"

"Weapons that could shoot well over twice the range of crossbows and accurately..." Megan's eyes narrowed as she stared unflinchingly back at the red faced Marshal. "Cannons that could sink ships with a single shot!"

"Their flying... aeroplanes..." Megan continued as she glanced around the chamber. "Ships made out of metal!"

"They have all these... yet they only shared a measly few tek no lo gee that isn't even worth a gold crown in their eyes!" Megan's voice rose higher. "Yet they demand food and resources in exchange for all that... junk of theirs!"

"I am not a scavg hound!" She spoke in a loud and strong voice and pointed at the gathered council members. "Are you one? You?"

"NO!" The council members yelled out angrily back at her, their moods roused.

"So why must we bow and go scrapping before the United Nation for the scraps they throw to us like its a great favor?" Megan asked the council members who had their blood up. "Why not we grasp our own future by our own hands?"

First Fleet Master Kose watched silently as Megan roused up the fighting spirits of the council. He knew she was right in a way that relying on the United Nations would not benefit the Isles in the long run. They must become strong enough so that the United Nations properly would treat them as equals rather than just paying them lip service.

He felt tired to the bones and cast a glance at Marshal who eyed him back with a sad smile on his wrinkled face and thought that maybe it is time to step down and allow the young to replace the old. He and Fleet Master Marshal both sat quietly in the midst of cheering and spirited calls and cries of the council as they supported Megan's words.

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The New World, ???, Cartel Expeditionary Force, The Acumen

"My Lord!" An aide appeared beside Lord Copperstone who was dining with the rest of the senior officers. "Flagship Hammer of Resolute has sent a message, my lord!"

Copperstone put down his utensils and wiped cleaned his beard before he took the sealed scroll. He tore the wax seal away with his finger and read the message twice before he cleared his throat loudly, gathering the attention of all the officers in the dining room.

"Outlying scouts have picked up a small fleet of water sailing ships before the fleet, seems to be natives of this land," Copperstone informed his officers. "Roughly one turn of the glass away."

"Finish your lunch and get to your stations," Copperstone said as he stood up from the table. "I will be at the bridge."

Copperstone reached the bridge of The Acumen and looked out from the looking glasses, seeing a trio of ocean going ships had lined up a row and seemingly waiting for their approach. There were sailing ships in the Old World, reserved mostly for the poorer class and nations. The Cartel uses steamships that were faster and more efficient compared to sailing ships for those who could not afford an airship.

"They seemed to be waiting for us, my Lord," An aide commented and joked as Copperstone observed the construction style of the ships with a critical eye. "I hope they came with beer."

"Interesting," Copperstone ignored the joke his aide made as he focused his attention on the ships' lines. "They seemed to have a solid foundation in building ocean faring ships..."

He had picked up some interest in oceanic shipbuilding sometime back and knows some of the ins and outs. He only shook his head after he spotted the ballista mounted on the ships in slight disappointment. "But their designs and weapons seemed quite antiqued in this age of steam..."

"My Lord," The aide pointed to the side as a small frigate detached itself from the fleet and went fore to meet the natives. "Lord Ender has sent his scout ship to greet the natives under the High Lord Hammerfall's orders."

"Do you think these natives will be hostile?" Copperstone mused as he watched the air frigate approached the water bound ships. To his slight disappointment, the natives did not seem to engage in any aggression and instead, Copperstone could see the small figures of the locals boarding the air frigate and moments later, the frigate rosed up to the skies and returned to the fleet.

"Lord Copperstone," A bridge crew with a thick beard and oversize headphones spoke respectfully. "High Lord Hammerfall is requesting all the Cartel Lords' presence onboard the Hammer of Resolute immediately for a council."

Copperstone took the offered slip of parchment that was sent over by a series of beeps and translated out into words. He read the translated message and nodded, "Ready my launch for departure!"

Moments later, his booted feet touched on the hangar decks of the Hammer of Resolute and found the rest of the Cartel Lords grouped together at one side awaiting the arrival of the frigate bearing the natives.

"Ahhh, Lord Copperhead," A Cartel Lord greeted him with smiles. "Rock and Stone my brother!"

"Rock and Stone, Lord Ironmore," Copperstone greeted and returned the salutations of the other Lords. "What do you think of all this?"

"Most likely the natives are offering their surrender?" Lord Ender cut into the conversation. He had his long brown hair tied up into a long ponytail and his beard was braided neatly. Yet it did not cover the sly look of his sharp face and eyes as he stood before Copperstone and Ironmore. "They must be in awe of our power!"

"Hmmm..." Copperstone frowned and gestured to the frigate hovering next to the opened hangar hatches and a small launch detached from its side, traversing the small span of emptiness before coming to a halt in a midst of hissing steam and rattling engines. "We shall see if your guess is right or not, my Lord."

The side hatch opened and a couple of stocky stormtroopers led by a young beardless ensign stepped down. Behind them several tall and slim beings had to lower their heads at the hatch, to prevent hitting their heads and they climbed down the short steps awkwardly.

The natives looked very common, thought Copperstone as he eyed the newcomers. They had the same long ears of the people and the same features and height as the rest of the other Great Nations. The natives were dressed in short white coats with yellow facing and carried curved swords at their polished belts. It seemed to Copperstone that they had planned to come to meet them, judging by how polished and ornate their uniforms were.

The ensign from the Hammer of Resolute took over the guests and brought everyone including the Cartel Lords to the Great Hall. The natives looked around their surroundings with curious eyes but none had the look of awe and bewilderment on their expression. Copperstone felt their lack of feelings to seeing something much technologically advanced to their primitive ships to be disconcerting.

"Lord Ironmore..." He whispered to the stocky Lord walking next to him. "Do you feel something is wrong with... these people?"

"Hmmm..." Lord Ironmore frowned as he stroked his beard. "Yes... something is off... But I just can't put my beard to it..."

"Their reaction... is too calm," Copperstone answered. "Either they are putting up a very good show of keeping calm... or they know something we don't..."

"Rock and stone!" Ironmore smacked his fist on his meaty palm in realisation. "That was what's bothering me! I assumed they are in shock from seeing all this... but... now that you pointed it out..."

"This all smells like some kind of set up..." Copperstone hissed as they reached the doors of the Great Hall. "Something is wrong with this group..."

"Could they be killers of some kind? Sent to kill the High Lord?" Ironmore had an alarmed look on his face as he stared at the backs of the six natives."We should warn the stormtroopers!"

Copperstone felt doubtful that they were some kind of death squad as he watched the natives hand over their weapons and submit to a body search. Still, he went forward together with Ironmore and whispered some words into the ear of the storm captain whose face changed as he stared at the natives.

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Dwarven stormtroopers =D


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