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UNS Vengeance, Bridge

Endless sheets of rain pelted against the armored windows of the command bridge, leaving visibility virtually impossible for watch standers in the bridge. The massive trimaran's hull groaned under the surging waves and the crew onboard constantly had to hold on to railings or something firm as the decks underneath their floor rose up and down,

The storm had hit them just as they reached the north cape of Hensink and the fleet had to take shelter from the strong waves and wind. The UNS Vengeance was naturally capable of withstanding the storm as it was built so, but the tiny Goblin class corvettes had no chance to survive the storm.

Hence the Vengeance's escorts had to find a sheltered cove to weather the storm while the Vengeance itself laid offshore as it was too large to ever come close to land for fear of running aground. As for its aircraft inside the hangars, they were all tied down securely to prevent the expensive equipment from getting damaged.

Commander Ford sat over the map table as he mentally calculated distances from their position to Fort Hensink. He looked towards the nearest view port and seeing the dark grey view, he let out a soft sigh before he turned to the communications operator and asked, "Still no luck over the comms?"

"No, Sir!" The operator replied stiffly. "All comms are down due to the heavy weather..."

"Keep trying to raise Fort Hensink," Ford said as he grabbed on to the side of the map table to steady himself when the deck underneath his feet rose at a slant as a massive wave carried the ship up and down. "This storm had better past soon so we can get out of here!"

Commander Ford had a feeling of unease as he said that. For some weird, he felt something was wrong and he checked the ship's condition status constantly, worried that something might go wrong. He turned to the XO of the Vengeance and reminded the second in charge, "Make sure all departments report in their status every thirty minutes!"

As he stared out of the view port again, thunder cracked and lightning bolts flashed across the skies and lightning bolts started to hit the tallest mast of the Vengeance, creating showers of sparks from the impacts. The lights and power flickered briefly with each lightning impact as the lightning rod installed on the mast channelled the lightning to the metal hulls of the Vengeance and dissipated the lightning into the sea.

"This storm better end soon!"

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UNS Vengeance, Battleship Central, Cargo Hold

At one corner of the central hull's cargo hold, a cage hold sat isolated by its self next to the hull. Inside the cage was a black case that was secured on a pallet on a rail track that led to a cargo hatch. The dungeon core which went haywire was stored away inside the black case, a magic restraining and contamination case to prevent it from causing any mischief, under heavy protests from the members of the Faith of Superior Firepower!

A small watch of mage techs and Marines guarded the case at all times and at this moment, the overseers were preoccupied with not getting swept off their feet from the pitching waves. Their attention was caught by the overhead flickering lights and they failed to notice the magic restraining contamination case shaking each time the lights flickered.

As the lights stabilized, the guards glanced over at the case and seeing it still at its place and the MU detector did not give out any unusual readings, they did not take any more notice of it. Unknown to them, when the lights flickered, the MU detector also went unpowered for a second, which made the detector unable to pick up the sudden surge of magical energy coming from the case.

The clueless watchers and guards did not notice a small ghost like figure appearing out of the thin air next to the case. The ghostly figure looked around in confusion before it went through the cage as if the metal bars of the cage were nonexistent! It drifted around looking at everything with great confusion and curiosity and hid away in the shadows when anyone came close or would have spotted it.

It slowly spent its time wandering around the massive cargo hold, exploring and examining everything curiously as if it was a newborn child.

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The New World, Fort Hensink

Lightning flashed across the skies and briefly illuminated the landscape, casting deep shadows across the land. A parachute flare shot into the air and burst into an eye searing glare only to drop rapidly to the ground under the heavy rain and wind.

But the brief illumination was enough to lit up the hundreds of dark shapes hurdled to the muddy ground. Instantly, spurts of red fiery tracers erupted out from the fortress across the killing ground which had been cleared and flattened when the fort was built. Shortly after ripples of mortar explosions flashed all over the terrain around the fort.

A hymn coming from hundreds of throats could be heard over the storm and thunder of firearms, as the Protectorate troops sneaking forward under the cover of the rain and night started singing. They rose up and started charging across the wet muddy field, their magic barriers shimmering like soap bubbles covered the north and western side of the fort.

"OPEN FIRE!" The command was screamed down the line and repeated by the UN soldiers hunkered behind the HESCO sandbags. Rifles were raised over the parapets and thundered, the rain turning to steam on the hot barrels of the weapons.

Yet, the glow of the shimmering arcane shields did not stop advancing despite the heavy gunfire. The glow of the arcane shields allowed the UN soldiers to roughly gauge the location of the enemy and at the same time, they could see the enemy approaching closer and closer.

"FIRE IN THE HOLE!" Another cry rang out down the lines. "FIRE IN THE HOLE!"

And suddenly the front of the sandbag walls erupted in one blinding flash as buried claymore mines were triggered. The flash of exploding claymores illuminated the stormy night like flashes of a camera and the UN soldiers could see brief frozen like images of the enemy across the field before a keening cry broke out from them.

The suddenness of the death of hundreds of their own soldiers shocked the Protectorate forces on the field. The stench of gunpowder and rust was quickly washed away by the rain and wind but the wide gaps that opened up in the ranks and the pitiful cries of the wound broke the Protectorate forces' will and they fell back in disorder despite the efforts of the devout choir that was trying to boost their confidence and morale.

Soon, the black mass of soldiers disappeared off into the storm while artillery and mortar chased after them without mercy, reaping more lives off the battlefield.

-----

Lord Inquisitor General Mathias stood under a ruined tower that had been hastily covered up and stared out in the dark stormy night, his ears twitching slightly each time a thunder rumbled over his position. He could not see anything in the dark, but the flashes and fiery bolts of fire coming from what was now known as a fort of sorts, was enough for him to know that his attacking forces were taking a huge toil from the defenders.

He had personally gotten off his flagship to view the battlefield, despite the heavy rain and advice from his staff. He wanted to see what this unknown force that was not written in the reports of the first wave was capable of and so far, he was astonished. Over ten airships destroyed or lost in the surprise opening by the enemy and over another dozen airships were badly damaged or crippled.

 

The number of deaths among the Paladins was staggering and not to mention the scores of sky wing flyers that did not return. Luckily, he had the foresight to order his fleet to unload all their supplies and troops before moving in to engage the fort, or his losses would be higher. Now, the majority of his ground forces had taken over the ruins of a city which his staff was certain was the city that Rism had captured in the report and were fortifying the ruins.

Mathias continued to stare out at the flashes flickering randomly in the dark when a red coated Paladin bearing a messenger flag secured over his back appeared and went down on one knee, "Greeting Lord Inquisitor! May the Judgement give you justice!"

"Report! The Paladins has fallen back from the attack!" The messenger said. "Lord Bishop General Atlos reports that his men were repent back some unknown heretical magic and his forces had suffered massive casualties!"

"He dares to show cowardice before the lawless?" A high ranking aide blurt out in anger. "How dares the Lord Bishop General run from the lawless! Lord Inquisitor! He has to be Judged!"

Several other ranking staff and aides mumbled their agreement. To them it was shameful to run from the sinners and more so by heretical heathens in an uncivilized land! "Lord Bishop General Atlos must be Judged for his actions shows a lack of justice!"

"Silence!" Mathias snapped at his men who bowed their heads in submission. "Whether or not the Lord General has to be Judged will be solely decided after he gives his report! Understood?"

"Yes, Lord Inquisitor General!" The men replied obediently as they saluted. "Justice will be served!"

"Good!" Mathias replied in an annoyed tone before he turned to the waiting messenger. "Order Lord Bishop General Atlos to attend to me at once!"

"Yes, Lord!" The messenger gave a curt nod before he left the shelter of the tower and ran out into the storm. After half the turn of the sand glass, the messenger returned with a bulky and old looking soldier. He saluted and stepped aside for the veteran to enter.

 

"Greetings, Lord Inquisitor General!" The grizzly veteran took a knee down and saluted. "May the Judgement give you justice!"

"Rise!" Mathias turned around and faced the old soldier who despite his greying hair and beard, still looked fit and energetic in his heavy steam powered armour. "Tell me why have the Paladins retreated in the face of the lawless?"

The General's expression turned ugly as he gave his report, "My Lord, the enemy uses an unknown kind of magic! Its spell range is at least three times ours or even more!"

"Not only that, it is very powerful and also capable of multiple rapid castings!" Lord Bishop General Altos said in a helpless tone. "My Paladins even with their magic barriers are unable to stop several of such spells before their barriers are broken!"

"And that is not all," The general in command of the Paladins continued. "The enemy has some kind of invisible screaming spell that could kill with a loud thunder clap and also invisible fireballs that are ten times deadlier than what the Suugon Dynasty uses!"

"Impossible!" A command staff cried out. "You have failed your duties and are coming out with excuses to not face the Judgement! Your faith is broken! You must be Judged!"

The old general ignored the words of the aide and instead faced Inquisitor Mathias with a resolute expression. "My Lord Inquisitor! I place my soul before the Judge and Creator and swears that all I have said and done is true and for the Justice of the Protectorate!"

Mathias frowned underneath his mask as he stared at the unwavering eyes of the general before he let out a sigh and nodded, "I trust you..."

"Now go attend to your soldiers," Mathias said. "Regroup your Paladins and prepare another plan of attack on that... fortress! If we are to establish ourselves here and also to find out what has happened to Inquisitor Rism and the others... We must first crush all resistance!"

"Yes, Lord Inquisitor General! Justice is on our side!"

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