The New Kingdom of Mecca, Frontier City

Sergeant Cork, once a General of the Empire of Bluewood, stood on the parapets of the sandbag reinforced city walls of Frontier, watching the fluttering blue flags in the distance. Memories of a past life flashed across his eyes, as he recalled that once, he was standing on the other side watching the city walls which he now stood on.

He shook his head to clear his thoughts and let out a snort of laughter and mumbled, "How ironic life is..."

"Hmm?" A dulcet voice answered him from his side and he turned to see a female knight armoured full in plate mail standing next to him and grazing out to the Imperial camp in the distance. "What did you say?"

Cork shook his head again, thinking that this pretty lass was not suited to be in armour despite her fighting powers. No, her close quarter fighting powers, he mused as an afterthought. "Nothing... Just admiring the view here..."

"Well... I am glad actually for... you and your men's presence here," Jeanne said in a soft voice as she leaned on the sandbags. "If not, the Empire would have invaded us again... and this time around, there might be nothing left to rebuild..."

Jeanne had followed the UN Army's march west and using her influence and charisma to pacify the locals, allowing the UN to establish their influence over the people. Now, both of them had arrived at the border between Mecca and the Empire, which helped settle the locals' fear of another war.

Cork remained tactfully silent as he continued to stare at the fluttering flags in the distance, recalling that he did cause the fall of the Meccan Kingdom in the first place, and now indirectly he was also involved in the bringing the Kingdom down again after it rebuilt.

"I am sure we will be alright," Cork finally gave a simple reply. "Supplies has been coming in from the air and the people around here are getting some food at least."

"Yes, that is why I am thankful," Jeanne said in a grateful tone. "Honestly, I do not know what will happen to Mecca now..."

Cork shrugged as he too has no idea what the higher ups were planning. Both of them enjoyed a moment of peace when suddenly there was a movement in the Imperial camp. Cork dug out his field glasses and scanned the camp and said in surprise, "They are leaving!"

"Leaving?" Jeanne took the offered binoculars and observed the Imperials. "You are right... But... Where are they going? Have they given up?"

"I am not sure," Cork frown's deepened as he stared at the flags and wagons rolling out of the camp with blocks of infantry following. "They must have really given up or something big has happened back home..."


United Nations, Haven, Fortress Singapore, Conference Room

Blake looked around the room, seeing both virtual and physical bodies around him, recognizing most of the attendees and seeing some new faces. Most of the senior staff were humans like him, while others like Joseph and Magister Thorn has come a long way. His expression darkened slightly as he glanced to the usual spot where Sherene used to sit, except now, it was replaced by another elf who used to serve under Sherene.

He took a deep breath and push away his unhappy thoughts and gestured for the room to settle down. Once he has the room's attention, Blake addressed everyone, "I am sure many of you have questions in regards to our next steps."

"As you all know, we have taken the New Kingdom of Mecca under our wing, due to the total decapitation of their leadership," Blake stated in a cold tone. "The NKM will be granted some autonomy but under the direction of our leadership."

"I am sure there will be some dissatisfied nobles trying something funny," Blake said. "Internal Affairs and Intel will deal with them as they see fit."

Tavor gave a slight nod of his head in acknowledgement while otherwise remaining silent as the rest of the room. Blake continued on, "Aid will continue to pour in, and I want to pull as many people into a central area as possible."

"Villages and settlements less than two hundred people are to be moved to the nearest town or city," Blake said. "Or merged with nearby villages."

"A full census of the population must be done," added Blake. "And proper mapping and standardisation of names and roads are to be implemented."

"Once we have the Meccans concentrated in towns and cities, we will establish public works like schools, health care and so on," Blake said. "It will be a massive project, to reform and rebuilt the NKM but it must be done."

"Captain," Commander Ford raised a question. "You do know how much money is needed for rebuilding an entire country?"

"Our funds are not unlimited!" Commander Ford's image rubbed his face. "And we have our own projects costs here to settle too!"

"No matter what," Blake waved away Ford's protests. "It is something that must be done."

"But Sir," The female elf who took over Sherene's position spoke up. "The Commander is right... We simply do not have that much money to rebuild a country that has at least twenty times our number or more!"

"I am not asking you all to rebuild the country in a day or two..." Blake raised his palm up to forestall any more objections. "We plan now and laid down the foundations!"

"But, Sir," The new head of the civil affairs administration objected again. "We do not even have a direct route into the Meccan kingdom! All supplies now either go by air or water!"

"And transporting supplies or anything will cost more this way!" The elf explained. "And not to mention the time needed to move those goods!"

Blake nodded in agreement at the valid points given. "Yes, I know. That is why we have to teach and train up the locals there! We have to make them self sustainable!"

"Food, production, education, health care," Blake listed out some major points. "These will ensure that Mecca will have a future!"

"I know many of you all have your own views in this matter," Blake spoke over the mumbles of conversation that erupted. "Two years. In two years time, Mecca must become self sufficient!"

"But... but..." The civil affairs head stammered. "Its... impossible! The costs, labour, materials..."

"Than you better start planning or I find someone else who can," Blake said sharply, making the female elf shut her mouth in fright. "You have a whole department of people to call upon to come out with a solid plan! Do it!"

"Y- yes, sir!" The female elf could only dejectedly agree as she shrunk down in her seat.

"Now, with that out of the way," Blake looked around the table, especially towards the military side. "We all know that the Old World is throwing troops through the clouds and trying to get a beachhead here."

"What their objectives or motives for each nation are unknown," Blake said. "And frankly, I don't really give a damn."

"But when a nation like the Protectorate are willing to do things... that no intelligent life should do to another..." Blake's eyes glinted as he recalled the reports on the audacities done by the Protectorate. "They have crossed a line that must not be crossed."

He sucked in a deep breath, trying not to think of Sherene. "I can be pretty sure that if the other nations in the other continent can bear with such neighbours than they too have questionable morals."

"I plan to destroy all forces trying to land and take advantage of this land," Blake declared over the noise of the surprised officers and staff. "If they surrender, fine, we take prisoners. If not, then tough luck."

"The UNS Vengenace will continue with the new plan of attack up north and also allow the crew familiar themselves more with the ship and also to kink out any other issues onboard," Blake looked pointedly at Ford who nodded. "Clear the north, by force if require."

"Following that the Vengeance will proceed along the northern coast and link up with the rest of the corvette flotillas based at Fort Hensink," said Blake. "The Vengeance will resupply before turning south and head towards the Isles to see what the fuck are they playing at."

"Captain," Ford frowned as looked at the map. "Such a round trip would take two months or even more, depending on the situation up north..."

"Yes," Blake nodded. "It will be good training and live exercise for the crew."

"In the meantime," Blake turned to Magistar Thorn and Dr. Sharon. "I want those magic shields that allow these... invaders to be deciphered and usable by the time the UNS Vengenace returns. Is it possible?"

"Two months?" Magistar Thorn frowned as he stroked his long greying beard. "It should be possible."

"Good," Blake nodded, his stern expression softening slightly. "Now, while that is ongoing, are the stuff we salvaged from the enemy of any use to us?"

Chief Matt's virtual image stood up as clearly the question was directed to him. "We are still experimenting with the stuff we have gotten."

"I can only say this is that if the testing goes well," Chief Matt grinned. "We might have a cheaper alternative in air travel!"

"Good, keep up with the work," Blake said before he stood up. "Alright, that's all for today. Return to your work. Tavor, on me!"

"Yes, Sir!" The attendees stood up and saluted while Blake made his way out followed closely by Tavor as they headed towards Blake's office.

"Did the prisoner say anything?" Blake asked as he walked briskly along the empty hallway with Tavor in tow.

"No, Sir," Tavor replied. "We are still... trying to break his faith to his God..."

"Hurry it up," Blake hissed in anger. "And... what of Dijon?"

"He is still under treatment in Dr. Sharon's hands," Unaffected by the angry outburst of the Captain, Tavor replied smoothly. "Dr. Sharon says he will not have at least 80% body function."

"Even with the regen tank?" Blake frowned.

"Yes, the regen tank can regrow lost limbs and organs, but not enough to heal back nerves that had been damaged severely and scarred over," Tavor explained. "She says that we will require a lot more of the regen chems and also a neurologist. The ship's medical facilities are lacking in this field."

"But can he talk still?" Blake asked. "Can he speak?"

"Dr. Sharon says, it shouldn't be a problem, with therapy..." Tavor had disgusted expression on his face as he said. "They purposely did not destroy his vocals, as... I guess they wanted to hear him scream... Fuckers..."

Blake shook his head, as he ignored the vulgarity which Tavor rarely used. "This world... and its toxic culture must be erased..."

"I agree, Sir," Tavor replied in a determined voice. "I may have done some things that no one can be proud of, but these... savages goes beyond the line. Even beasts are way better than them!"

"I know," Blake nodded as he patted Tavor's shoulder. "Now go break that bastard's faith and dig out every bit of information you can!"

"Yes, Sir!" Tavor snapped to attention, saluted and left, leaving Blake alone in the hallway.

Blake rubbed the side of his head as a migraine threatened to crack his skull. He made his way into his office, waving the salutes of the guards away and stumbled into his chair. He reached into his drawer and took out a small leathery pouch and hesitated for a moment before he pulled the drawstrings and took a pinch of the greyish white powder with a hint of greenish glitter.

His hand trembled slightly before snorted the powder through his nose and the sudden kick of the drug instantly dispel his headache and unhappy thoughts away. Blake leaned back on his chair with a satisfied smile as the pain and sadness ebbed away and before he fell asleep, he dreamt of a smiling Sherene.

A note from neo Koh

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