When conscious slowly returned to the mind, the man floating inside the tank of green fluids cracked his heavy eyelids open slowly. The sting of the fluid against his eyeballs jolted his mind further awake and panic rose in his heart as the man found himself submerged in a strange environment.

Yet his body did not respond to his commands, his hands and legs felt like they were weighed down with lead. Even turning his head felt like he was trying to move a mountain, and he could only suck in air through a pipe that was stuck in his mouth.

He stopped trying to thrash around as his mind processed the information around him. He realised that he was in some sort of giant glass container and could see vague blurry images of figures that were moving about in a room. A blurry figure stepped close and he could see the palm print of the person as he or she pressed against the glass and he tried to mimic the person's actions but found his hand was not moving as he liked.

The strain of trying to move his limbs tired him and slowly, his eyelids feeling heavy, closed again and his conscious returned to the darkness.


United Nations, City of Haven, Fortress Singapore, Med Bay

A whirl of motors whined as the robotic arm raised up and five stubby digits stretched out as if trying to grab hold of something. The grapple digits twitched and the hand turned into a claw like gesture before the robotic arm swung down as if losing power.

Dr. Sharon turned her attention back to the figure floating inside the regen tank and removed her hand from the glass. She felt a mixture of emotions at the broken figure that was slowly recovering inside. Anger at the people who could do something so cruel to their own kind, sadness for the victim and helplessness for the culture and situation they were in.

"How is he?" Magister Thorn popped out from behind Dr. Sharon as he joined her at the regen tank, looking at the sleeping figure. "Will he recover?"

Dr. Sharon shook her head sadly, "Even with our advanced medical facilities, it is impossible to bring someone back fully from the amount of damage he has suffered, especially his mental state."

"His nerves had been damaged too severely and too much time has passed," Dr. Sharon added. "If we have a neurologist... he might be able to recover the full use of his body... but now, we could only repair the damage to his body and organs... and keeping him alive..."

"Is that why you wanted these?" Magister Thorn gestured to a half body robotic skeletal frame on the other side of the med bay. The skeletal frame which resembled that of a Protectorate War Jack had cables growing out from the frame and several magic formations and runes laid around it with glowing mana stones. "You want to... put him inside that?"

"It is... probably the only way for him to survive now..." Dr. Sharon sighed. "The tank is the only thing keeping him alive now... And we can't keep him inside forever!"

"The fluid we gotten from the Protectorate War Jacks were able to keep a person alive inside for ages..." said Dr. Sharon as she picked up a small tube of the said fluid. "We have salvaged enough to immerse him inside a tank... and if we hook his body up to the controls of a War Jack... He could at least still move and... function..."

Dr. Sharon gestured weakly at the framework of metal skeleton and exposed cables. The technology of the Protectorate's War Jacks was barely even fully understood, but enough was learnt to allow placing a live subject inside the 'controller tank' of a salvaged War Jack.

"As an elf machine? A... A guinea pig?" Magister Thorn struggled with the English word before he shook his head sadly. "What kind of life is that for a person?"

"Better than death or as a vegetable!" Dr. Sharon hissed angrily with tears forming on her eyes. "Did you think I want to do that to him? I am not the one who tortured him... who pried his nerves out and burn them one by one!"

Magister Thorn reached out and pat her shoulder gently as Dr. Sharon removed her glasses to wipe the forming tears away. "I am sorry... I was too harsh."

"It's not your fault!" Dr. Sharon sniffled. "Its... this world... Everyone thinks that killing and torture are normal and acceptable! I... I am tired of all this shit!"

"Hush... hush... cry it all out, my dear," Magister Thorn hugged Dr. Sharon as she started crying in his embrace. He patted her back gently like a grandfather comforting his granddaughter who cried out all the unhappiness and pent up stress in his arms.

Dr. Sharon whispered softly as she rubbed her tears away. "I guess... this is why I am putting all my hopes on Captain Blake... to turn this world into a better world..."


United Nations, City of Haven, Fortress Singapore, Captain's Quarters

Captain Blake looked through the reports on his desk while Intel Officer LT Tavor gave a run down of their situation. "The UNS Vengeance will be delayed for at least two weeks for repairs before running the sea trials again."

"What happened?" Blake asked as he signed some documents. "The UNS Vengeance is supposed to leave the docks by end of the week yes?"

"That was supposed to be the schedule, Sir," LT Tavor replied. "But Chief Matt and the Dock Master deemed it unfit for launch till they replaced the flight deck platings."

"Why?" Blake stacked the signed documents on his out tray and looked up. "Were there battle damage that severe?"

"No sir," Lt Tavor said. "The replacement is for all the deck plates that were locally produced... As they could not hold up to the firing of the main guns over the flight deck."

"Didn't we used the Singapore's hull plates for the flight deck?" Blake asked in surprise. "Should those be enough to withstand the shock wave?"

"Yes and no, sir," Lt Tavor started explaining. "The hull plates from the Singapore can easily withstand the guns' shock waves, its those that were produced locally, that could not. They did not line the entire flight deck with plates from the Singapore, rather only certain areas were plated that way..."

"So... this means that other areas were affected?" Blake getting the picture cut in. "So now they want to replace the entire flight deck? Both flight decks?"

"Yes Sir," Lt Tavor nodded. "Or risk losing flight operations or limiting broadsides to the starboard side only."

"Can they finish in two weeks?" Blake frowned. "Including other fixes and changes internally?"

"That is what the goblins promised." Lt Tavor answered.

"Oh, that is good enough, I guess..." Blake gave a grudging nod, knowing the goblins would deliver what they promised before he turned to the quiet Kaga working in the corner. "Kaga, push the Vengeance's launch schedule back."

The beast girl gave a nod before she returned to her work, poking away at the keyboard of her computer to update the orders. Lt Tavor scrolled through his tablet before continuing on his report. "The new contacts South East of Fort Hensink were beaten back. Our surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft are keeping an eye on their movements for now."

Blake nodded, as he looked at the war map mounted behind his desk. "One group up north... designated Alpha... Another group roughly same area as the Protectorate designated Bravo, and fielding the same type of dragons the Vengeance has encountered at Goblin Island, Group Charlie... And the final group in contact with the Isles... Group Delta."

"Sir, Intel's understanding is that each Group is from a different nation, due to the differences in ship design and colours," Lt Tavor said. "We have visual on Group Bravo, Charlie and Group Delta from our recon planes."

"Group Bravo which was beaten back consisted of two vastly different groups..." Lt Tavor explained as he pointed out on the display which showed images taken from gun cameras and recon flights. "Our own sources have informed us that the colourful ships are from the Loose Confederation while the black and white ships are most likely their ally, the Dragon Lords..."

Blake nodded as he took in the information. "And Group Charlie?"

"Group Charlie should be from the Suugon Dynasty who fields dragons similar to the Dragon Lords," Lt Tavor said while switching the images, showing two top down images of airships, one looking jagged and segmented brown green hull while the other hull looked more organic with giant bat like wings as sails and in black and white tones. He next switched the images to the dragons both sides used.

"These dragons, are a lot smaller in both size and weight compared to our lightweight class of dragons," He pointed out the differences on the display. "Here you can see a saddle like mount which carries one rider, armed with those... steam powered pop guns of theirs."

"They have longer wings compared to our lightweights but their estimated weight is half roughly of them," Lt Tavor said and played a video showing a crosshair chasing a winged lizard. The crosshair overtook the frantically flapping dragon before video shook wildly and white flashes flicked out. "Their speed seemed to be faster as well from this video taken by one of the Viper's gun camera."

"Have you shown this to Blue Thunder? Rastraz?" Blaked asked as he hit the replay on the video.

"Yes and to the other dragons in the Dragon Air Corps as well," answered Lt Tavor. "They have no knowledge of such species of dragons at all."

"Interesting," Blake rubbed his chin, feeling the day old hairs growing on his chin. "So maybe the dragons evolved differently on the Old World."

Lt Tavor nodded and continued, "That might be the case here. As for the Group Deta, their airships appeared to have rams mounted on their forward prows. Our source identified them as ships of the Cartel, a race of short people which the elves called them as Dwarans or half people in their language."

"Dwarans?" Blake shooked his head as a small smile appeared. "Let me guess, Dr. Sharon is calling them as Dwarves?"

"Erm... Yes Sir," Lt Tavor said. "She insisted I changed the Intel report of their English naming to Dwarves..."

"Let her be," Blake's smile widen. "Let her have her small pleasure."

"Sir, I would like to recommend a new course of action for the UNS Vengeance." Lt Tavor suggested.

"Speak," Blake gestured Lt Tavor to continue, curious of what recommendation he has.

"Sir, instead of sending the Vengeance to the Isles, why not instead move the Vengeance north instead towards Group Alpha?" Lt Tavor pulled the map onto the display screen. "First, they complete their sea trials along the way and if any repairs or fixes are needed, they can do that in Far Harbour."

"But Far Harbour does not have a dock large enough for the Vengeance's size," Blake pointed out.

"It should be fine," Lt Tavor replied confidently. "By this time, the Vengeance would not need a dock to make any repairs or changes. They can also stock up on their supplies, pick up a few more squadrons of aircraft and hit Goblin Island again, taking out the last airship there."

"After that they can head up north, skipping over the Empire's water and come in contact with Group Alpha," Lt Tavor's finger traced the path the super carrier will be taking on the display. "Group Alpha seemed to have settled down on the Northern Island, and we will need the super carrier if we ever planned to... take care of them."

"And the Isles?" Blake frowned as he considered Tavor's plan. "The Vengeance is supposed to our show of force to them."

"We ignore the Isles for now," Lt Tavor said. "News of the super carrier would have spread by now, now that we are no longer keeping it secret."

"They would be panicking now," Lt Tavor had an evil smile on his face. "But if we move the super carrier up north..."

"What do you think they would do?"

A note from neo Koh

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