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The New World, The Isles, Eastern Islands, Cartel Occupied Territory

Grand Lord Hammerfall expression was dark as he listened to the report being given to the gathered Lords. The rest of the Cartel Lords were grimed face, some even showing anger as the aide continued the report of Lord Ironmore's battle with the Islanders.

"One hundred and twelve dead..." The aide read from the scroll. "The boarding party was totally wiped out when the Islander's ship exploded."

"They rather kill themselves?" One of the Cartel Lords mumbled angrily. "Savages! Same like those cursed Protectorate zealots!"

"If they have such convictions..." Another Cartel Lord spoke up as he faced the Grand Lord. "This means they would not surrender easily... And this may turn out to be against our favor..."

Grand Lord Hammerfall nodded in silent agreement as the Cartel Lord continued. "They can trade casualties with us and in the long fight, we will lose out as we only have so many troops!"

"Our next reinforcements are still weeks away!" The Lord added. "If they do not fear heavy casualties... We cannot win this war!"

"Than we shall change our way of war!" Grand Lord Hammerfall suddenly declared. "We have superior weapons and magic! Surrender for the enemy will be the last resort! No boarding actions are to be made from this moment onward!"

"We shall pound their ships and any ground defenses from afar!" Grand Lord Hammerfall stated. "All Lords are to take great caution in approaching any Islander ships or fortifications! These... people are sly and cunning! They must have a lot of tricks up their sleeves!"

"Continue to fortify the islands we captured!" Grand Lord Hammerfall added. "Watch the local population carefully for any treachery! Do not let your guard down! The Gods of the Mountains shall protect us!"

"For Rock and Stone!"

-----

The New World, The Isles, First City of the Fleet

Fleet Master Megan had a happy smile on her face as she listened to Fleet Master Akron's report. "Several dragon scouts have scoured the sea and have found no signs of the First Fleet Master's steamship."

"Only a handful of the First Fleet has survived and they had beached themselves at the Eastern Islands," Fleet Master Arkon said. "The surviving crew had joined up with the local militia in their defense against the Dwarvans."

"Poor old Kose..." Megan shook her head when her smile remained on her lips. "He tried so hard to protect what he holds dearly but still..."

"Oh well, at least now with Kose and his First Fleet gone," Megan turned to Akron and her smile widened. "The old is finally gone and now... New blood shall take over the council and bring the Isles a fresh start to this... exciting age!"

"Congratulations, the post of the First Fleet Master will surely be yours!" Akron gave a bow to Megan. "But it is such a pity to have three steamships destroyed..."

"It's a small cost to pay for greater things," Megan waved away Akron's concerns. "Also, those steamships are not really worth mentioning in a fight, they are after all... failures..."

"Failures?" Akron was surprised. "But..."

Megan gave a smile that made Akron shiver inwardly. "I never expected those slow and unwieldy ships to ever content against the Dwarvans' flying ships nor the United Nations' iron ships... But building they allowed our shipwrights to learn and come out with a masterpiece!"

"But... I did not foresee that... giant ship the United Nations made!" Megan hissed. "It made me having to change some of my plans, but still, it should not cause much of a difference in the end!"

Akron nodded, "What about the people of the Eastern Islands? What should we do?"

"Keep sending them supplies," Megan replied. "I need them to hold the Dwarvans' attention while my plan goes into action!"

"Where is that giant ship of the United Nations at now?" Megan asked as she sat down before her desk.

"It was last seen sailing towards the United Nation's Port Sanctuary," Akron replied before he continued hesitated. "Is... it wise to go against a ship that huge?"

"We will not be the ones to attack the United Nations," Megan replied with a smile as she strolled to the exit. "Don't worry so much! I am leaving to board the Sea Shadow!"

"You shall remain here to take care of the little things!"

-----

The New World, Off the Coast of Port Sanctuary, UNS Vengeance

Several cargo lighters were busily motoring across the choppy waters between the anchored UN battle carrier and harbour. A large floating platform was deployed next to the anchored ship and a small army of naval personnel and machinery were moving supplies off the docked lighters and into the open cargo bays of the Vengeance.

Commander Ford watched as a massive cargo container was been craned over the deck of one of the docked lighters and into an opened side cargo hatch of the Vengeance. A naval crew quickly swarmed the cargo container, removing cables and using machinery to shift the heavy container deeper into the cargo bay.

"So he's here," Dr. Sharon suddenly appeared next to Commander Ford's elbow as she joined him at the observation deck, looking down at the ongoing cargo transfers.

Ford gave a curt nod as he remained silent, his heart feeling heavy. Dr. Sharon sensing his dark mood gave him a heavy pat on his back and said, "Don't worry too much about ethics. We have long gone past those lines ever since the war with the Swarm began!"

"Since having ethics and principles is what make us human," Ford stated. "I always believe that one must stand to his beliefs and principles... Even if it isn't the right choice at times..."

Dr. Sharon shook her head helpless, "You and your principles... You do know what the crew calls your behind your back right?"

Ford gave an embarrassed smile as he let out a deep sigh. "Yeah... The Ironman..."

"Hahaha! Ironman..." Dr. Sharon laughed. "Hard and inflexible as iron!"

Ford's smile widened as he looked down at the ongoing work at the floating docks. "Haha, am I really that bad?"

"Yes!" Dr. Sharon said with a hint of laughter in her voice. "Even the Captain can't stand your stubbornness at times!"

Ford let out a chuckle and shook his head. "I guess I am that bad, huh?"

"Still, I guess that isn't such a bad thing," Dr. Sharon said with a smile. "It's rare these days to have someone with such firm values..."

"You make it as if it is a good thing," Ford grinned. "But I do find myself starting to question if there are really such things as good or evil."

"We would be branded evil if ever half of the things we did here were known to the people back home," Ford said. "Yet, the people here on this planet, think that we are angels for the things we do..."

"Hell, there even a goddamn new religion that started to worship guns and bombs for crying out loud..." sighed Ford. "I guess I should not complain so much about what is being brought on board now..."

"Give that poor man a break will you?" Dr. Sharon advised. "Their way of thinking is unlike us, and even if such a thing happened to us back home, they would still get bionic replacements..."

"Yes, but turned into a war machine..." Ford argued. "But I guess it's not my place to say anything, since he wanted it himself..."

"Come on," Dr. Sharon tugged Ford's arm. "Let's go see him. You haven't seen him since... Sherene was taken..."

"You... are right," Ford let out another deep sigh. "It's time to face my demons..."

-----

Blue Thunder poked his head over the parked aircraft in the hangar as he peeked at the fenced off area that had just popped out. Several tractors had moved a couple of shipping containers over and many people were busy setting up something there which caught his attention, including the tiny God Girl Plee that was seated on his head as they curiously stared at the commotion.

"Wads that?" Plee asked as she stuffed her cheeks with a piece of sweet cake that was her offerings of the day.

Blue Thunder let out a soft sigh as he wondered when has he become the mount of the God Girl. "I have no idea!"

"Let's go nearer and see!" Plee demanded. "Go, go, go!"

"But..." As Blue Thunder hesitated, he suddenly spotted Dr. Sharon and Commander Ford. An idea immediately sprung up and he quickly made his way carefully around the parked aircraft least he earned massive reprimanding from the deck boss. "Good day, Sir! And madam!"

Dr. Sharon eyed the big dragon with a goofy grin on his face and she knew he was up to no good, especially with Plee riding on the top of his head. Lately, the two had been up to many mischiefs for the past few days, with many complaints coming from the cooks in the galley.

Between the two of them and one more dragon, they had nearly demolished all the food supply of the ship's stores with Plee demanding tribute and offerings from the members of the Faith. Yet, unlike Blue Thunder who grew fatter, Plee still appeared to have the looks and figure of a small child despite eating enough for an entire family per meal each day!

Dr. Sharon gave a smile to Blue Thunder while Ford let out a snort of displeasure, which made Blue Thunder drop his grin. Blue Thunder stood straighter as he came to attention before Ford and Dr. Sharon hide her laughter behind her hand. Ford stared at Blue Thunder and said, "Shouldn't you be disembarking and reporting back to Haven?"

"Erm... Sir... I would like to... stick around..." Blue Thunder replied in his more polite voice. "I-"

"You do know you have orders right?" Ford frowned as he looked up at Blue Thunder and spotted Plee peeking out from the back of his head. "And the ship can't support two dragons and a... God..."

"Not with the amount of food you two eat!" Ford said sternly. "And the whole damn crew treats... the Girl... it's unbecoming of the Navy!"

Dr. Sharon finally started giggle as she could not hold back her laughter, "The way you are saying about Plee is like she is some kind of pet!"

"Aren't they treating her like one?" He glowered. "Sneaking food out of the galley... Hosting bbq and movie parties in the hangar?"

"All the discipline of the crew has gone down the drain!" Ford snapped. "This is getting ridiculous!"

"And we just talked about how inflexible you are..." Dr. Sharon laughed as she remained Ford who rolled his eyes at her comment. "I guess as long as such activities don't affect ship operations, they should be fine..."

Ford let out another sigh before he gestured to Blue Thunder, "If you want to stay, your rations will be cut! And I don't want another complaint from you from the cooks! Is that clear?"

"Aye aye, sir!" Blue Thunder snapped a salute with his wing before his mouth opened with a grin. "Can I go fishing for my rations?"

"Whatever, as long it does not interrupt ship operations or your duties!" Ford had given up as he replied. "Just... stay out of trouble..."

"Yes Sir! Thank you, Sir!" Blue Thunder was joyous as he got to stay on board the Vengeance. "I will be a good dragon!"

"Hahaha!" Dr. Sharon laughed as Blue Thunder made his promise. She shook her head helplessly at the dragon before she asked, "So what are you doing here?"

"Oh, we want to know wad is that?" Plee suddenly poked her head out and said while pointing to the fenced off area in the hangar. "Wad are they doing?"

"Well, since you are curious let's all go see," Dr. Sharon's tone suddenly turned serious as she eyed the setup. "It's something sad yet necessary in these times..."

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