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The Empire of Bluewood, Exile's Passage, Port Of Sunder

The once disused and poor maintained city walls were transformed in a just span of a few days. Hundreds of slaves and labor gangs now toiled on the city walls, covering it with scaffolding and cranes hoisting stone and other materials. Gangs that were once prominent in the city, had now all retreated in the face of the hundreds of Imperial soldiers patrolling the streets.

Strange long black iron tubes were carefully emplaced around walls made out of sacks filled with sand on sections of the city wall that had been restored. The locals were curious, but none could approach the walls to see the strange objects as dozens of soldiers had cordoned off the areas off.

The arrival of the Imperial Army had mixed feelings from the inhabitants of the city. The more timid denizens started fleeing the city in droves while others seeking opportunities, moved into the city and opened new stalls, offering goods and slaves to the soldiers.

Knight Colonel Sander twirled his neatly waxed moustache as he stared out of the murky windows of the Governor's Estate that overlooked the city on a hill covered with perfectly maintained gardens. He stopped his actions and spun around, casting a look of contempt at the cowering figure of the Governor seated at the edge of the sofa before he laid his eyes on the cloaked figure sipping a cup of hot beverage.

"Esteemed Sage," The Knight Colonel gave a respectful bow to the cloaked figure and asked, "The dragon cannons are being sited on the walls. Will they be enough?"

The cloaked Sage continued sipping his tea for a moment before he set the cup down, letting the Knight Colonel wait. "Hmmm... to tell the truth? No!"

Knight Colonel Sander frowned and he questioned the Sage with some heat in his tone, "We have followed your instructions, still it is not enough to fight against the unknown enemy?"

The Sage nodded, his hood bobbing up and down, and the Sage seemed to pause halfway in his nod to pull his hood down further. He spoke again in his strange accent, "Too little cannons... Lousy workmanship and inexperienced gunners."

The Knight Colonel rubbed his moustache again as he mused on the Sage's words before he gave a grudging nod of agreement. He let out a sigh and changed the topic, "Esteemed Sage, do you think it is the United Nations doing the raids?"

The Sage put down his cup of tea and spoke with his head bowed, "The United Nations... I do not think so..."

"Why?" The Knight Colonel was curious. He leaned against the writing table and folded his arms. "They are the only nation known to have those flying machines."

"These flying ships," The Sage gestured out of the window. "Are not of the UN origin, that I am very sure. It should be the same enemy or similar that attacked the Meccans..."

"I see," The Knight Colonel nodded. "If that is the case, those rumors of... flying ships and giant golems... are true?"

The Sage gave a small nod as he refilled his cup of tea. The Knight Colonel suddenly broke into a big smile and said in a confident tone, "Well! We have you the Great Sage here! I am sure we will be victorious!"

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Leung Chun Kok was secretly terrified of his current situation. He felt like he was on a boat adrift in the endless ocean, unable to steer and control its headings. He grew up in the gang controlled lower income urban area of the densely populated city state of Hong Kong. Without knowing who his parents were, the orphanage he grew up in, provided the standard government mandate amount of schooling and care before he came of age and was released into the streets of Hong Kong.

Armed with a small number of funds issued under the Global Orphan Act and basic education, he soon fell into the wrong company and worked as a runner for a local gang boss. The work mostly involved him moving certain goods around made him just enough money to rent a shoebox apartment in the New Territories, Sha Tin District.

There he lived his life without any goal and ambition and just following the flow, one day at a time. When the Swarm invaded and suddenly the government started announcing all able men of age were to serve, he was at a loss. Some of his gang buddies wanted to hide away from the conscription and urged him to go into hiding with them.

But he was torn between wanting to go do something different, rather than just hanging around, playing games and working as a delivery boy for the Boss who had long gone into hiding from the conscription.

In the end, in his hesitation, he got swept up by a random police patrol and his name was found to be in the conscription list. Next thing he knew, he was cuffed and dropped off at the nearest processing centre in Shenzhen, China, with a large group of other recruits and his nightmare began.

Life in the Chinese military camp was very strict and especially for someone who was thought to have tried to run from serving the human race from an alien invasion. The Instructors there paid special attention to all those who tagged as a runaway, ensuring they get all the TLC the Instructors dished out.

Leung tucked his head in and tried his best to not stand out to the Instructors, but it was hard. Eventually, the other recruits also vented their unhappiness and amusement on him, making his time in basic training a hell.

Yet, he managed to survive, as even the Instructors did not want to create a serious case of having deaths or overly injured recruits to give the press ammunition to further criticize the unpopular conscription law. Once he completed Basic Training, he was posted off to Fleet, where he began his next part of the training.

After being posted to Fleet, his life changed for the better, there was no more harassment from the trainers and fellow trainees. At this point in his life, he felt that things were finally turning to be better for them when he and his class was assigned to the UNS Singapore for a two week on the job training.

And events, as usual, became out of his control as the remaining hull portion of the crippled UNS Singapore crash landed onto an alien planet. For a moment, he thanked the Gods for allowing him to survive the landing and even be on a planet that they could breathe! But his fate has yet changed, when they were suddenly embroiled in a war with the native alien race here.

In his heart, he cursed and chide the higher ups for being a busybody and getting themselves involved with more problems when they themselves cannot even settle their own problems. It was then, he had gotten close with the others down at Operations. The Indian Marine had said something about grasping their own destiny that sounded really good after that fifth shot of distilled spirits the Russian from Auxiliaries had cooked up.

After that, it was another whirlwind of events that swept him along with the others. By then, it was too late to back out, and he could only grit his teeth and join in with the rest. It had seemed they had broken away from the military as they drove off into the thick snowstorm but only to be swallowed up by evils of the planet.

Leung was superstitious as it was a big part of his life growing up in Hong Kong. While not religious, he believed there were spirits and Gods. When the Snake appeared before them, he was shocked and he knew he was in the presence of an unworldly being, a God of sorts. Unlike the others, he embraced the Snake God willingly, feeling its oily presence in his mind.

When the UN suddenly attacked Sin City, Leung was in the factory, tinkering with the fabricator they had stolen out in parts. He only felt a sudden flash of pain throughout his body before the pain turned into a bone deep chill and he blacked out.

When he finally woke up, the oily presence in his mind appeared to have shrunk so much so that it was almost gone. He knew then that the Snake God must have somehow been defeated by the UN. Knowing he couldn't stay at the destroyed city, he made a deal with a group of traders and joined them at their small settlement.

There he kept a low profile as he did not want the UN to find him. But months of peace and quiet, he had lessened his guard and somehow the UN found him again. Again the attack was swift and unexpected, but this time he could feel his body burning and reforming at the same time and he knew that the warhead of the missile must be something special.

He managed to crawl away and hid under some debris and it had taken him two days to recover enough for him to limp away from the flattened street. Following that attack, he decided to hide forever and with a tattered robe, he started wandering off.

But yet again, fate forced his hand. In his travel, he encountered a few nobles who were happily had him sold off as a slave or taken his life, had he not bullshit him way out of trouble. Unexpectedly, he had enough knowledge of science to help bluff his way through, even making him some coins for his travels.

With a few advice here and there, he was soon known as a wandering Sage. His exploits among the common people became known to rulers and worse still, they were over exaggerated by the retelling which led to one trouble after another for him.

In the end, the drunken gibberish he spoken to one Lord at a welcoming feast about the thunder weapons of the UN, turned out to be the formula for black powder. The Lord had the formula tested and it turned out to be true, despite some minor mishaps and instantly, Leung found himself to be the centre of attention again.

He quickly escaped and started wandering again and before he knew it, he found himself at the Empire. Fate played him again, as he was stopped and he had to reveal his identity as the Great Wandering Sage or he would be either put to death or taken as a slave.

To prove his identity, he gave up the formula for black powder and it worked. He was treated like royalty and even asked for advice on certain matters. When he first met the young Emperor of Bluewood, he was shocked as he recognized the boy. Luckily, he was wearing a cloak which he quickly pulled the hood down to ensure he was not recognized by the young Emperor.

His accent, unfortunately, was harder to change but he still managed to bullshit his way out with his encounter with the young Emperor and his court. Now, he served as a guest advisor of the Empire's court and was now dragged to the northern coastal region of the Empire to advise the Knight Colonel in charge of the new dragon cannons that were his ideas.

Leung picked up the warm cup, his hands scarred by the airstrike were covered by a pair of soft leather gloves and sipped the warm tea. He nearly spat the tea out when he heard what the Knight Colonel said and instead he changed his actions to a wise sounding cough.

"Lose the battle, but win the war," Leung said wisely as he picked his mind for idioms. "Remember, we are here for the men to learn new ways of war."

"Yes, Esteemed Sage! You are right!"

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