United Nations, Hope Naval Station, UNS Vengeance, Marine Deck

"Attention on Deck!" The Marine closest to the hatch yelled as he stood up to attention when a group of officers entered. Marine Major James headed straight for the podium at the front of the briefing deck while the other officers took up positions at the front row.

"At ease, people," James said as he cast an eye around the seated marines, noting some familiar faces among the two company sized attendees seated in the briefing deck that could hold an entire battalion if needed. "I am sure all of you have a lot of questions in your minds, and I will answer them or most of them as much as possible."

"I am sure, most of you know each other here," James smiled as the gathered Marines started cracking some jokes about how intimate they knew each other. "Than it is easy for you guys to get integrated."

"Welcome to the 1st Marine Raiders!" James said as the projector screen behind him lit up, displaying a blue shield with a single white star on the top of a red diamond bordered by white and a grinning white skull inside. "Most of you are from the original raider platoons of the Marine battalions which have now been disbanded."

"Now some of you might wonder what is so special about a Marine Raiders that it is rated a new battalion for it," James had a big smile on his face as he stared at the Marines. "All of you here, are hand picked here, which means, you are one of the best of the best within the Marines!"

"As a Marine Raider, your roles will no longer be similar to that of regular Marines!" James explained, his smile and tone turning serious. "You will be involved in special operations missions, going behind the enemy, conducting high risk reconnaissance, assassinations, kidnappings, and a whole lot of other dark... dark missions that can NEVER see the light!"

"Your mission... your work will be highly classified and any leaks will result in an immediate summary execution!" James said in a stern voice which the Marines had over the course of his briefly sat straighter up, their faces turning solemn at his words. "The Marine Raiders are not line infantry! Like the Hundred and First Arcane Tactics and Intervention... which is now part of the Army, the Marine Raiders will fill in the role of special operations!"

"And like someone pointed out," James's dropped his serious face and grinned at Mills at the front. "We are Ninjas! Marine Ninjas!"


Mills had a frown on his face as he sat opposite James in his office, reading a file. "So all this recalling us back to the fight is about this?"

James nodded, as he plucked the folder from Mills's hands. "We will follow the Vengeance on her two to three month voyage around the New World..."

"In that meantime, the men will be trained intensively on spec ops procedures," James said. "High Command expects plenty of fighting with the New Enemy when we encounter them up north. Which judging from the way things are going currently... I concur too."

"So just two companies of marines?" Mills frowned. "Isn't that too little?"

"We will be joined by 4th Battalion at Far Harbor when the carrier sails over," answered James. "We will also be picking up some new equipment and a whole lot of new toys, which... will be more than enough to entertain everyone for the months long trip!"

"Really?" Mills rubbed his chin as he digested the news. "Damn... At least three months hmm... Why are we wasting time doing this?"

"I can only assume that THE Captain wants to ensure all the crew and Marines are fully trained before sending us to cross the End Zone and bring some good ole love and destruction to the Old World," James gave a shrug. "Also the recall of all the humans back to field... I think he's really planning to put all his cards out..."

"Like an all out show hand or gamble?" Mills frowned. "Damn... If he needs us here... It must be pretty bad over the End Zone..."

"That I do not know as of yet," James replied. "But I will see if I can ask some questions to the right ears and see what they can tell me."

"So... three months eh?" Mills sighed deeply.

"Yes, might be more, depending on the situation on the ground there," James smiled. "Have you settled your affairs?"

"Ah..." Mills blinked rapidly. "Shit..."

"You better settle it," James shook his head at his friend. "And also, I am putting you in charge of B Company."

"Huh?" Mills was startled by the news. "Aren't a company supposed to be run by a Captain at least?"

"Well, I'm bumping you up to Captain," James grinned and reached over to grab Mills's hand and gave it a rough shake. "Collins will take A Company and you will run B Company. Congrats! You are now a Captain!"

"Oh... OH! Fuck!"


United Nations, Hope Naval Station, UNS Vengeance, Flag Officer Quarters

Commander Ford stared at the display screen before him, which had been stripped from some console onboard the UNS Singapore and transplanted onto the quarters which Ford now sat in. The hallowed face of Captain Blake looked back at him and Ford asked, "Sir, is it wise to put the humans... our original crew back to the field?"

"We need their expertise and skills," Blake's image replied back. "Their experience serving onboard the Singapore will help steady the green hands of the Vengeance."

"And the Marines?" Ford asked. "Surely... the elves can do the same job too right?"

Blake's head shook on the display, "I want them there... for a reason... I am issuing them our advanced firearms."

"Why?" Ford frowned and asked in a worried tone. "Is there something I do not know?"

"No, I just want to end this stupid situation as fast as possible..." Blake's face seemed to shag and Ford found him suddenly looking very old and tired. "So that we can move on to... more important work..."

"If that's your order..." Ford sighed. "Well, repairs on the flight decks will be completed in a couple of days more. The goblins are running tests now."

"Good," Blake replied with a nod. "Find out what's happening up north and resolve it."

"I am counting on you, Kevin," Blake suddenly said, using Ford's name. "Put an end to this conflict!"


The Isles, First City of the Fleet, Megan's Estate

"Is this news true?" Megan asked as she placed the scroll down on the fine blackwood table. "When was it delivered?"

"Less than a quarter turn of the glass, Fleet Master," The messenger said while remaining in a respectful bowing position. "It came immediately from the harbor when the courier docked."

Megan waved her hand to dismiss the messenger who backed out of the study, leaving Megan alone inside. She picked up the scroll and unfurled it, rereading the contents again. "So... the great iron ship of the United Nations has sailed... But towards the west..."

She mentally calculated the distance and time travel of the report and placed the scroll down. She reached over to pick up a bell and rang it summoning her retainers. "Send our fastest couriers ships to follow the UN's great ship! I want to know its whereabouts and heading!"

The retainer bowed and quickly departed, and Fleet Master Akron suddenly appeared at the door. "Fleet Master Megan, what has happened that made you all flustered?"

"Akron! Just in time!" Megan looked from her desk and gestured towards the scroll. "Here, read this."

Akron took a few short breaths to finished reading the contents and he frowned. "If this is correct, where can they be sailing to?"

"That's the hundred gold crowns question, yes?" Megan hissed. "I have already dispatched some of our fastest ships to tail that ship!"

"Fleet Master Megan... I..." Akron had a hesitant expression as he wondered should he say what he wanted to. "I... don't know if I should say this..."

"Just speak your mind here!" Megan waved her hand irritably. "Stop acting like a fool!"

"Yes... yes... of course..." Akron cleared his throat and said. "I think we shouldn't anger the UN..."

Megan glared at him and remained quiet, prompting Akron to continue. "The short Outsiders at our borders... The Dwaran as they called themselves... I doubt their tek no lo gee can compare to the UN..."

"I have seen their weapons and machines..." Akron shook his head. "Impressive as it may seem, but I find them... lacking, if compared to the UN."

Megan's glare softened and she broke into a laugh. "Hahahaha! My dear Akron... After so long, did you just realized this fact?"

Akron was confused as he hurried explained himself, "No... I mean, I find allying ourselves with the Outsiders might... not be a good idea..."

"Of course, it isn't!" Megan said with a small knowing smile. "The UN could destroy an Outsider force that had effectively destroyed an entire Kingdom! Why would I be stupid enough to believe that another Outsider force could win against them?"

"But... but... I followed your commands to reach an alliance with them!" Akron was shocked. "And we constantly disrupted trade with the UN!"

"Hahahaha," Megan shook her head, "Akron, Akron... That was to pressure the UN into exchanging their precious tek no lo gee with us! But now an opportunity has come! Don't you see?"

"I am sorry, I am not sure I follow," Akron had a confused look on his face. "What are you trying to do?"

"It is true that the UN has been trading their trash with us," Megan sighed. "If this goes on, we will forever be begging for their scraps just to survive under their shadow."

"For us to break out of our reliance on their influence, we needed something to be able to bring us up," Megan explained. "A weapon, magic, trade good, something, anything that can reverse our fate of being swallowed up by the UN."

"That is one reason why I wanted the Council to restrict the trade and dealings with the UN," Megan said. "But those money hungry idiots think otherwise."

"But didn't we do the same previously? By holding back food stocks and waiting for the war to drive the food prices up?" Akron asked curiously. "Isn't it about money too?"

Megan sighed, "Yes, I needed the money. Did you think that making iron ships and fire cannons are cheap?"

"I needed the funds to make those weapons!" Megan said. "The Council would, of course, approve its costs, but at the same time, it would tip the UN of our intentions... Which they will know we had stolen some of their thunder weapons! And in retaliation, they would stop all trade of their tek no lo gee no matter how... trash they are, we needed it then!"

"Now the alliance with the Outsiders...? The Dwarans?" Akron's eyes narrowed as he wondered if he was just a chess piece to her.

"I wanted the Dwarans to think they are saving us from the UN..." Megan revealed her plans. "While at the same time, force the UN to send their fleet over..."

"But we could have asked them for help?" Akron said before he paused and his eyes widened. "Oh... you wanted to control the information the Outsiders would have of the UN!"

"Yes... If the UN had met the Outsiders first..." Megan shook her head. "They might establish friendly contact... and where does that leave us? Picking up their scraps again?"

"This way, we can control information about the UN to the Outsiders..." Megan smiled. "Creating an unfavourable impression of the UN to them..."

"And when the UN sends their fleet over..." Megan's eyes hardened. "We can create a 'misunderstanding' between the two forces... while we watch from the sides."

"And reap the rewards later!" Akron smiled excitedly. "Like the hunter stalking the peco and the wyvern!"

"Yes... but I did not expect the UN to have a great ship..." Megan hissed. "That might upset my plans!"

A note from neo Koh

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