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United Nations, Hope Naval Station, Super Dock One, UNS Vengeance

"Boss! We no can do this in three days!" A cry of protest came from the group of goblins in oil and smoke stained overalls. "We need... more days!"

The protesting goblin raised up both his hands with his fingers spread wide. "We need... ten... ten days!"

"Twenty days?" Chief Matt shook his head, "No can do, boys! The Big Boss wants this ship to set sail by the end of this week! Which means... three days is all you have!"

"But... deck warped! Support beams creaky!" The lead goblin complained as he stomped his booted feet against the top of Flight Deck B. "Big boom boom guns damage deck!"

"Yes... I know..." Chief Matt let out a sigh. They had reinforced the flight decks of the UNS Vengeance to allow the 14" guns to fire over them with the armour plating recycled from the UNS Singapore. Test firing on land with the 14" guns over the armour plating showed minimum damage or effects to the plates, which the armour plating was used to cover the areas directly below the effects of the main guns.

Yet, despite careful calculations, the shock wave of the 14" guns had buckled the surrounding flight deck not using the armour plating from the UNS Singapore. This had lead to the suspension of operations of Flight Deck B for safety reasons. And now, the dry dock's goblin boss wanted to rip out all the armour and replace them with the same armour from the UNS Singapore.

"Boss! Armour plates must be removed!" The goblin insisted as he hopped up and down, barely even jumping high enough to reach Chief Matt's chin. "Another boom boom... no flat space for flying god machines to land!"

"Hai..." Chief Matt sighed again, as he knew it was the truth. "Alright... I talk to the Big Boss and the CNO about this screwup..."

"In the mean time!" Chief Matt gestured around the flight deck. "Start tearing the deck up!"

"Sir yes Sir! Chief Boss!" The goblins happily threw a salute at Chief Matt before they scampered off to their stack of tools at the side and started yelling commands to the rest of the goblin work gangs that were enjoying the ocean breeze. "Get working you lazy gobz! We got permission to rip the decks up!"

The goblins hearing the command, let out a happy squeak before someone turned up the volume on some portable music player and some heavy metal music started echoing down the flight decks as they went to work.

Chief Matt shook his head as he watched the goblins threw themselves joyously on their task. Once he had been wary of the goblins but over the years, he actually found the goblins to be very hardworking and focused on their tasks especially if it involves machinery. He walked towards the central battleship sector and entered the pagoda like superstructure and headed up the steep stairs and into the Bridge.

The Marine on duty stood to attention and undogged the hatch for him and Matt found the CNO busy with some paperwork at the separated admiral's bridge. "Sir?"

"Come in, Chief," Chief of Naval Operations, Commander Ford said after glancing up briefly before returning to his work. "What is it?"

"Well... the dry dock's goblins are saying they gonna need twenty days to fix the flight decks," Chief Matt reported. "The warped deck plates will be replaced with the plates from the Singapore."

"Twenty days?" Ford looked up from his work. "The Captain did say he wants the Vengeance to head over to the Isles to see what mischief are they up to."

"Well... either you don't fire the main guns directly over the flight decks and risk flight operations or you sacrifice Flight Deck B... if you need to broadside something..." Chief Matt suggested. "Then at least you still can run flight ops off Deck A..."

"Hmm..." Ford reached for a stack of documents and dug around before he came out with a folder. "Alright, I will talk with the Captain with the delay. At the same time, we can move another four squadrons of Cobras and Vipers onboard while the decks are being replaced."

"Thank you, Sir!" Chief Matt let out a relieved sigh. "I shall go oversee the goblins on their work."

"Go," Ford waved Chief Matt off and called out to his staff. "Start reassigning these squadrons over here. Looks like we will be stuck in the dock for a few weeks..."

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The New World, Empire of Bluewood, Exile Island, Third Iron Fleet, The Iron Fortress

"Why are we still hanging back here?" The Crown Prince complained. "The Tri State is taking all the good loot!"

"My Prince, you safely is our utmost importance," Lord Ableman calmly reminded the Prince. "We and the Duchess has come to an agreement, and she will handle all the fighting for us."

"But still!" The Crown Prince was bored and unhappy. He wanted to do down with his armour, sword and air rifle, killing the hordes of monsters that populated the large island. "Think of the hunt! The glory of killing a high level monster!"

"There is no glory in killing... monsters," Lord Ableman sighed. "Its not even a hunt to begin with... It's a massacre!"

On the block of viewing crystal before them, was a view showing hundreds of beasts trampling through the undergrowth, drove mad by the low flying frigates of the Combined Air Fleet. The frigates flew at tree top levels, the mages onboard dropping spells that made loud noises that drove the monsters out.

The maddened monsters stampede towards the waiting steam cannons of the rest of the Combined Air Fleet and were cut down by clouds of flying steel balls and bolts. Lord Ableman watched the scene from the viewing crystal and shook his head at the sight. "The Duchess is quite ruthless in her plan..."

A massive four headed hydra stormed out of the trees, its many heads whipping about in a frenzy as it tried to seek out the source that was making it angry. The blood and gore of the surrounding dead monsters drove its rage up further and it eyed the row of airships directly in its path.

It rushed forward, its many heads trying to reach out to snap at the only things in its path only to have a volley of grapeshot slamming into its body. It staggered back as it's body leaked blood from its many wounds and collapsed in a lump when another volley of hundreds of steel balls ripped through it.

"It's over," Lord Ableman turned away from the massacre. He admitted that the Duchess's plan in harvesting magic crystals this way was simple and brutally efficient. Yet, there was a feeling of unease at the cold blooded way the monsters were killed.

-----

The ground was churned into the mud and the stench of iron and void bowels was thick in the air. Duchess Manarva stood at the opened ramp hatch of the transport, watching the hundreds of soldiers waddling through the bloody mud and harvesting the carcasses of the monsters strewed all over the open field.

Carts pulled by domesticated four legged beasts with thick stubby horns growing out the side of their heads were filled with skin, bones, meat, and other harvested parts back onto board the waiting transports. A cart filled with chests of harvested magic crystals came rumbling up the ramp where the Duchess stood with dozens of soldiers helping to push the cart up which left behind trails of bloody wheel tracks and boot steps on the ramp.

Duchess Manarva took a deep breath in and let out her breath before grinning at her aide at her side. "Nothing smells as good as a field full of the freshly killed!"

"My Lady," Aulus had his nose covered by a piece of cloth, replied in a stoic tone. "I think your nose needs to be checked... Shall I summon the ship's healer?"

"Tch!" Duchess Manarva clicked her tongue. "You are no fun! Look at the scene before us! We have harvested more than a year's worth of magic crystals in just half an afternoon of work! Can't you just enjoy the moment?"

"I would certainly like to enjoy the moment," Aulus replied back. "But in a place that doesn't smell so bad and... with a less gory view..."

"Ha! But this is the sight of victory!" Duchess Manarva smiled. "Still you are right, we should go report our progress to our... sponsors, shall we?"

"Yes, that will be definitely a good idea," Aulus agreed immediately as he felt sick from the sight of the piles of dead monsters and smell. "I shall inform the pilot to bring us to the Iron Fortress at once!"

The hatch ramp hissed as steam powered hydraulics pulled the ramp close and the Duchess and Aulus both entered the forward cabin and sat down on the cushioned seats. The air transport trembled as the twin boilers were stroked and pressure built up, the heat generated heated the aetherium in the flotation tanks and gears and clanks turned the air screws.

The air transport slowly rose up as the heated aetherium displaced the weight of the entire transport and the air screws drove the transport forward. Looking out of the view port, the Duchess could see another of the air transport raising up into the air, its hold full of loot from the monsters.

"My Lady, I have been thinking..." Aulus said from her side. "Now that we found land... And a source of food, fuel, and water... We can establish our own base. Why do we still need to work with the Iron Kingdom? They take a part of any of the loot we get!"

"Now is not the time yet, my dear," Duchess Manarva replied with a smile. "We have yet to meet any... enemies, yet. Do not forget that the other Great Nations has dispatched a fleet here too!"

"Sooner or later, a clash between the other forces will be inevitable," The Duchess said. "In that time, having an ally with us will be to our advantage."

"Besides, the Iron Kingdom assigned some of their ships under my command..." Duchess Manarva's smile grew wider. "They will make good cannon fodder!"

-----

The New Kingdom of Mecca (Annexed), North East Region, Fort Hensink, Forward Radar Post

Specialist Lenora was enjoying a sandwich of salted meat, cheese, greens and ketchup, with his booted feet up on the console. He took a large bite of his lunch and chewed slowly, savouring the saltiness of the meat, the smokey cheese and the sour sweet taste of the ketchup when the display screens on his console started blinking.

He frowned and set his half eaten sandwich down and eyed the green circular display, his eyes following the bright green, almost white wand, spinning in a clockwise direction. A white mass of blobs appeared on the screen and he grabbed his headset, hearing the beep, beep, beep of the radar.

Playing with the controls, he fine tuned the radar frequency to ensure the system was working perfectly. Grabbing the operational chart of the day, he checked the chart for the scheduled flights of the day and found no entry matched the timing nor direction of the contacts. He quickly tossed the chart to one side and grabbed the red handset and hit the dial for the officer on duty. "Sir! FRP here! We picked up a bunch of unknown aerial contacts bearing south east east! Heading three one zero! Range thirty thousand!"

The officer on duty quickly relay the report up the chain of command and he dropped all his work and rushed down to the radar post where he hovered over Lenora's shoulder and watching the blinking blimps on the radar display before he picked up the phone and dialled to Fort Hensink's CO.

"Sir! We got unknown aerial contacts approaching the mainland!"

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