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"Great Sage!" An Imperial soldier with a bloodied bandage over his head rushed down the flight of stairs of the dungeon that were lit brightly by glow lamps. The messenger came to a knee before the cloaked figure standing at the head of the large dining table that had some time during the siege made its way down into the Governor's stone dungeons.

Originally, the Imperial soldiers had scorned the need to hide underground like rats but after experiencing the first bombardment of the city from the flying ships, the senior officers had wisely followed the advice of the Sage and moved their entire command staff down underground. Most of the officers were new to this kind of warfare as not much officers survived the war with the UN. Now they all surrounded the table covered with maps of the city and its surrounding areas under the light of dozens of glow lamps.

"Report! The sky raiders have returned!" The messenger cried out. "Two fleets! One from the north west and another from the north east!"

"So they split their forces to attack the city... hmmm..." Knight Colonel Sander rubbed his carefully maintained goatee as he stared down at the map of the city. "The north sea wall will come under attack here and... here?"

The cloaked Sage leaned forward, his cowl hiding his features in the shadows as he replied. "This round... I guess they will just attack us from range... Have the cannoneers take cover and the mages continue to protect the guns."

"Why?" Knight Colonel Sander asked a simple question as he gestured the messenger off to carry out the orders.

"In the first attack, they know that our cannons can sting..." The Sage replied in his strange accent. "Now they will kept away from the range of cannons... They will just keep to beyond the range of our cannons and drop plunging fire down onto our defenses."

The Knight Colonel had a deep frown on his face as he digested the information. "So they will randomly bomb the city? But won't they destroy the city? Don't they want to raid the city for supplies and gold?"

The Sage nodded, "I guess their intentions now are no longer about raiding the city anymore. It should be a matter of pride for them."

Seeing the Knight Colonel nodded as if enlightened by his words, Leung let out a small sigh of relief. He had been coming out with random nonsense all along and so far, he has been lucky as most of his predictions or advise as he constantly called them to be, came close to hitting the mark.

 

"This kind of war is confusing," The Knight Colonel confessed. "Even with dragon warfare, it always has been simple, clearing the skies, and dropping firebombs to troops..."

"Now, we have to calculate the effective height and range of the dragon cannons to hiding underground..." The Knight Colonel sighed as he confided with Leung. "Gone were the days of a good straightforward charge into the enemy. Now our infantry and even bowmen are all useless in such a battle!"

"Thankfully, you are here to led us into the new age!" The Knight Colonel grinned, looking like a certain someone's kindly uncle. "Or this city would have fallen long ago!"

Leung nodded sagely and racked his brain for a quote he read from his many E novels during his time as a recruit trainee.

"War never changes... Only the weapons changes... Yet it is not the weapons, but the men who handle them, who win victories... And now we are battle tested!"

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Off the Western Coast of the New World, UNS Vengeance, Flag Bridge

Ford was seated behind his desk at the spacious Flag Bridge which a tactical plot table occupied the center of the bridge together with a small staff that manned the various stations around the bridge.

He set the latest communique down as his mind raced. High Command, in other words, Captain Blake, had sent word that the Empire of Bluewood, their enemy ever since they landed on this cursed planet, was asking with somewhat polite words if they were attacking and raiding their northern shores, which struck Ford as ironic.

Must be the new child Emperor that Tavor had propped up there, thought Ford who brought up an image of the northern coast of the Empire on his display. "Wait a minute... That bastard!"

"He knew something like this would happen!" Ford exclaimed to himself as he came to a realization of why Tavor wanted the UNS Vengeance to head north to the Empire instead of heading towards the Isles. "That sneaky bastard!"

He shook his head in admiration at the devious mind of the Intelligence Officer. Tavor must had foreseen the Empire would assumed and put suspicions on the UN if they were attacked by the Old World force, dubbed Group Alpha since flying ships and aircraft would seem similar to the locals here, as they do not have the knowledge to tell the different apart.

Tavor must had wanted the Vengeance conveniently nearby for the young Emperor to request for our help when they realized that it is not the UN attacking them. The Vengeance's actual mission was not to show the flag to the Empire, but to offer an option to defeat the Group Alpha for the young Emperor! Not only it will display the United Nations' military might to the new nobles, it will increase the UN's influence greatly among the Empire!

"Fucking hell," Ford hissed with admiration as he stood up from his desk. He strolled out of the flag bridge and headed outside to the open air flying bridge and watched the scenery around him. A company of Marines were doing calisthenics on Flight Deck A while the other flight deck was occupied by a couple of F/A - 2 Vipers that were spooning up their engines as they readied to be launched off the deck.

Stretching beyond the tri prows of the UNS Vengeance was a formation of three escort corvettes that were considered tiny compared to the hull size and tonnage of the Vengeance. At the aft were another three escort corvettes and five oilers and supply ships and surprisingly, a pod of several island whales faithfully trailing behind, which acted as a sorts of temporary water resupply as the whales had fresh water holes on their 'island backs'. Unfortunately, they had yet to find a way to control or influence the island whales to their bidding, or they would make a great floating supply depot for naval fleets.

The fleet named Task Force Flag has departed from Far Harbor two days before and has streamed past the city of Haven the day before. It would take the entire Task Force another three days to reach the northern tip of the New World and another day or so to enter the straits between the large island named Exiles' Island and the mainland and come into contact with the Empire.

"Four more days of peace and quiet..." Ford mused to himself as he enjoyed the breeze. The Vengeance still has teething problems popping up here and there, that Chief Matt who demanded to be onboard, and his division worked tirelessly to remedy.

There were also several new equipment that were not battle tested mounted onboard the ship, one of them being the salvaged magic barrier equipment of the Protectorate. Preliminary tests showed that a magic barrier worked the worst with water, especially for ships if the barrier covered even the underside of hull.

The constant contact with running or moving water, causing a huge drain on the mana stones that was fed into a complex system of runes and magic circuits known as a magic convertor. Mana stones placed inside the magic convertor drains the stones, turning them into mana which to Ford's understanding, sounds kinda like electricity being pulled out of batteries.

The mana was than used to power the arrays of more complex runes and crystals which projected a bubble of semi permeable magic barrier which allowed air to pass through, allowing whoever was within the barrier to keep breathing. The magic could even be adjusted, increasing or decreasing the size of the permeable spores of the barrier.

The magic barrier as Ford was briefed on, was actually made up of thousands and thousands of tiny mana spheres that can be as tiny as a molecule which of course needed a lot of mana to maintain to the sizes as large as a dinner plate. These mana spheres were held together by the complex arcane workings of a Magic Crystal Node which felt like some kind of magnet to Ford. The size of the barrier was controlled by the barrier nodes which required massive amount of mana that was provided by the magic convertors.

The tiny mana spheres making up a magic barrier shatters upon impact with a high speed object, for example an arrow or bullet. Like a kind of reactive armor, the tiny spheres explodes, to dampen away the kinetic energy of projectile, thus negating the attack. And each time the tiny spheres were destroyed, more were created, hence draining mana.

A person or slow moving object could enter through the barrier without getting stopped, as the person or object pushes the tiny mana spheres away which the spheres quickly return and reform their shapes again. But constant contact with water will drain additional mana as the spheres have to keep trying to reform the bubble shape, which burnt mana.

On the other hand, fast moving projectiles from inside can be shot out of the barrier. The tiny mana spheres have two opposite charges, the side facing outwards of the barriers prevent fast moving projectiles or spells while the inner side allowed them out by being repelled away, allowing projectiles and spells to be shot out.

The magic barrier can cut through solid objects without any effect, as the spheres could not be created inside a solid object. Like light waves, the Magic Crystal Node projects out mana waves, and creates the magic spheres at the end of the waves. Mana waves unable to pass through a solid object would not be able to have a magic barrier created.

The magic barrier could even be tuned to deflect away heat, cold, lightning, and other elements by creating the opposing element of the attack. The weakness the magic barrier was the massive requirements of mana needed, especially the need to counter elemental attacks and shock waves created by explosive weapons which barely any of the New World natives has the concept of.

Despite having misgivings on such an alien arcane technology which his people barely has any understanding of, including the local mages, Ford still allowed the installation of the magic barrier onboard the Vengeance.

Dozens of Magic Crystal Nodes or MCN for short, were installed at critical locations such as magazines, fuel bunkers, and ordnance stores for the aircraft. They had tested the magic barrier several times before installation but still the entire system was not battle tested and might fail when they least expected it.

Ford prayed that it would of course work with a hitch, but in battle, anything that could fuck you over will attempt to fuck you at anything, as he had learned in the hard way. Still, it could save lives and even the ship if it worked.

"Fucking magic..." Ford sighed as he stared at the closet MCN, a thin rod of a grey brown wooden material with the head of the rod carved into a holder for a purple glowing crystal. Runes and strange arcane wiggles were further carved, onto the decks and bulkheads, and led into the depths of the ship to be connected to the several magic convertors shattered throughout the ship.

The single flimsy looking rod provided protection for the entire upper pagoda superstructure of the Vengeance with another installed at the rear as redundancy. A further couple more protected the lower portion of the superstructure, the rods blending into the complex arrays of communications masts and antennas.

"This shit better work when we need it," Ford cast a last glance at the MCN rod before he retired back into the bridge. "Where we are going to go in the future... We are sure gonna need it..."

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