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The New World, Empire of Bluewood, Exile Island

Leung picked up the small furry creature that fell into the pit trap he dug with a wide grin on his gaunt face. Since hiding out deep inside the forest of Exile Island, he hasn't been eating regular meals and his once well filled out body had now become thin.

He tied the legs of the rabbit looking like creature and slung it over his shoulder after he covered up his pitfall trap and returned to his camp. His camp was sited in a massive tree hollow and covered with branches and foliage to provide some form of protection and concealment.

After putting away his tools, he headed towards the nearby river to wash and clean his kill. It had been a couple of weeks since he had 'disappeared' from the company of the Imperials and he had been living off the land using the few basic survival skills taught during his military training back on Earth and what he could remember from reading from novels.

He had even managed to snag a crossbow, a spear, a sword, and a small bag of supplies when he made his plan to disappear. Using his clout as the erratic Sage, it was easy to grab what he needed from any Imperial soldiers he bumped into as he made his planned escape.

For once, he felt really carefree, despite missing some of the modern conveniences and even the local's low standards of hygiene. He had once thought of signing up as a colonist and be sent off to some rim world to escape the life he had on Earth but without sufficient capital, he could only remain in the low slums of Hong Kong.

As he was skinning his kill, he heard a snap of twigs and he jerked his head up and reflexly grabbed the crossbow by his side. He had encountered several feral goblins in the past week and really hated those creatures.

But to his surprise, instead of goblins appearing, several figures in silver plate mail, morion styled flared helmets and had white puffy sleeves and black pants, though the sleeves were no longer white and badly stained with mud and dirt.

"Oh... fuck..."

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The New World, Mecca, Sky Mountains

Inquisitor General Mathias watched the volunteers of his air fleet fleeing north to act as decoys to lure the heretical forces that hounded them constantly away with a brooding face. He finally looked away when the last of the airships disappeared into the clouds and glanced around to his weary troops.

His mixed mash force of soldiers and settlers had fled to the mountain range and now they were all huddled down tiredly around the massive trees that were so prominent in this new land. Mathias could tell that his men's morale was devastated by the one sided massacre and only the tiny faith and belief of His Judge Ramuh was holding them up together or they would have deserted already.

Standing on a rocky outcrop, he looked around his surroundings. They had stopped at the edge of the giant forest next to the slopes of the mountain range, using the thick canopy to hide their movements. From the previous reports and maps of the former expedition, he knew they had reached the foot of the Sky Mountains.

Mathias knew that they had no chance to win against this overwhelmingly powerful force and at the same time, trying to escape back to the Old World was impossible for now with the enemy aerial fliers patrolling the skies.

The pitiful few remaining airships had landed within the forest to hide and escape the powerful enemy flyers. Several airships were badly damaged as they tried to land in the forest, the thick canopy and branch ruptured the hull and shattered air screws and other components. Some were even trapped within the canopy and the enemy flyers blasted those helpless airships with their deadly magic.

Only five airships had reported in that they managed to land safely without major damages, their crew now busily chopping canopy to cover and hide the ships. In total, Mathias estimated he has roughly four or five thousand men, the most, seven thousand if counting the landed airships' crew when they join up.

Now, he needed to find a defensible location for his men to shelter and store what supplies they had. Next, the damaged airships had to be checked to see which can be salvaged or repaired as they needed every airship if they were to escape from this land. For now, he will bid his time, once the enemy has lessened their wariness, he will launch his airships and leave this cursed lawless land!

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The New World, Mecca, Fort Hensink, UNS Vengeance

Commander Ford put down the reports in his hand and listened to the flag officer narrating the current status of the fleet. He raised a sceptical eyebrow when the officer started reporting on the Vengeance's operational status after the yard hands at Fort Hensink had run checks all over the ship and found nothing out of the ordinary.

"So they are saying there is nothing wrong with the ship?" Captain Nimo frowned as he felt uneasy at the report. "But the ship controls did lock up at that time without any reason! Are you sure they did a full check of the systems?"

"Yes, Sir, our team of engineers ran the checks and diagnostics together with the team from the yard." The officer answered. "They ran the checks twice but all results came back clean."

"Run diagnostics again!" Captain Nimo ordered unhappily. "I don't want to take any chances of my ship going out of control in the middle of an action!"

"Yes, Sir," The officer noted down the command before moving on to the next topic. "The being that is known as Pele has been integrating well with the crew, especially members of the Faith of Superior Firepower. So far she has not stated any conditions or her intentions."

"Also there has been a rise in the number of followers to the Faith," The officer added.

"Will it affect ship operations?" Commander Ford cut in and asked. "Is there any cause for concerns?"

"No, Sir," The officer looked up from his reports. "In fact, division heads are reporting higher efficiency and motivation among the crew."

"Well, if there is no interference with the crew's morale and ship operations," Ford said despite some misgivings in his heart. "But, I am worried about the agenda of this... Goddess..."

"Will this Goddess be like what happened to the city of Norshelm?" Ford addressed his concerns to the flag officers in the meeting. "Will our crew be brainwashed by this Goddess into mindless zombies?"

"More importantly... What is this Faith of Superior Firepower?" Ford raised several points. "What is their agenda? Their end goal? How does this... Goddess tie in with them?"

"Also, will this Faith turn into some kind of evil cult?" Ford added. "We have many questions and no answers."

"I may be able to answer some of those points," Magister Thorn stood up and said. "I have been speaking and working with both the Goddess Pele and members of the Faith."

"While I do not claim to be an expert regarding these two," Magister Thorn quickly added to prevent any misunderstanding. "I do have some understanding."

"The being calling itself Plee, appears to have lost her memories of being a Goddess," Magister Thorn said. "She possessed some memories but none of the importance as far as I know."

"Currently, she exhibits a mentality like that of an eight year or so, and whether if it is an act or the truth, we do not know," Magister Thorn professed. "We can only continue to stay vigilant and observe her behaviour to see her true nature..."

"That sounds like we need to take a risky chance here..." Ford frowned. "I do not want to risk this crew, the ship and the UN on a fifty fifty chance..."

"That is true, but we have no other way to understand her nature nor whims at this point..." Magister Thorn gave a helpless shrug. "I have been teaching her both the Common Tongue and English currently. And also on basic common sense."

"She soaks up the lessons like a slime," Magister Thorn had a hint of pride in his voice. "Once Dr. Sharon arrives, we will be teaching her more advanced stuff and more of our culture."

"Alright," Commander Ford knew that it was already hard to understand human nature, much less that of a Goddess with amnesia. "Stay alert and don't put yourselves in danger! And do not let her read anyone's mind!"

Magister Thorn nodded in acknowledgement. "As for the Faith of Superior Firepower, I find it to be a very interesting belief!"

"What they believe in and worship in is the might of our weapons!" Magister Thorn started explaining. "They believe that the firepower of our weapons can protect them against others and they put their faith in the weapons and machines they wield."

"This is crazy," Ford shook his head in disbelief. "I can understand people worshipping something more... Godly... But worshipping science?"

"This is where you are mistaking something," Magister Thorn quickly explained. "To most of the people here, the might of our weapons is akin to magic, very powerful magic."

"It is like how cultists and some people would worship and practise dark magic," Magister Thorn said. "To the followers of the Faith, they see the firepower of our weapons as magic worthy to be worshipped."

"And the fact is that these weapons could only be created by the UN," Magister Thorn continued. "This... Faith of Superior Firepower... is unique... and solely only able to exist in the UN... If any other nations or kingdoms try to replicate such a feat, it would be impossible!"

"But what does this Faith got to do with this Goddess Pele?" Captain Nimo asked. "Did they really call upon a God into our realm?"

"Yes and no," Magister Thorn replied. "I got a theory that the dungeon core is a sort of gateway into another realm where mana is taken from that realm and released by the dungeon core when it is used."

"It might be just a lucky chance or coincidence that the divine spark of Pele was nearby and got attracted to the Faith of Superior Firepower's faith, bringing her into our realm in the process."

"Hmmm, if that is the case." Ford's frown deepened as he worried asked, "Will more Gods or Goddess travel into our world through the dungeon core?"

"No," Magister Thorn shook his head. "The dungeon core has lost it power. It is now just a piece of powerless relic."

"But..." Magister Thorn quickly added with a grin. "I found out about something surprising. It seemed that Goddess Pele is bounded within the confines of the ship!"

"What?" The officers around the meeting room were surprised by the news.

"We had tried to take some time off on the shore, but surprisingly, after the fast boat we were in travelled less than five minutes away from the Vengeance..." Magister Thorn's eyes glittered with laughter as he recounted the strange incident. "She started to feel uncomfortable the further she was away from the ship until such a point, she jumped off the boat and started trying to swim back!"

"After that, we did a few more tests. It seemed as long as she does not leave further than two hundred meters from the ship, she is fine. But after crossing that mark, she starts to feel uncomfortable." Magister Thorn said. "So this is one way we could control her if she ever turned out to be evil or something..."

"And the other method I did discover was that she is pretty much a glutton..." Magister Thorn shook his head. "I do not know how, but the cuisine you hoomans introduced appears to have a huge attraction not only to dragons it seems."

"Our Goddess here appears to be hooked to burgers..."

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Actually, I wanted Ka poho i kahi ola, the spirit of explosions to be the divine being... But I can't find any information regarding it, hence I decided to use Pele instead!


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neo Koh

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