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The Cartel Expeditionary Fleet, Flagship The Hammer of Resolute

The decks shook with a loud metallic moan and tilted wildly to one side. Screams and cries of panic came from the crew struggling to stay upright as the airship's magical barrier went down and the second wave of ship killer 127 mm rockets slammed right against the exposed hulls. Metal shrieked as explosions covered the sides of the airship.

Grand Lord Hammerfall griped the nearby railings as the decks underneath him shifted sharply, throwing many of the bridge crew off their feet. He steadied himself as well as he could and yelled loudly, "Bring back the shields! Shut engines two and four and rebalance the ship!"

"Shut the aetherium off the starboard side!" He continued calling out orders as the bridge crew recovered. The airship started to restore its equilibrium as the aetherium gas was shut off on the starboard side. Damage control crews carried out repairs and wounded were carried to healer stations.

Mages replaced burnt out mana stones and restored damaged magic circuits and runes as they raced against time to bring back the magic barriers protecting the ship. Grand Lord Hammerfall's face was grim as reports after reports came in flooding in. Each report told him the situation facing his fleet was getting worse and worse that he did not even need to listen to see the scenes of sinking airships.

The loss of the entire fleet's steam flyers had already shaken him up and he quickly came to the conclusion that these enemies must be the rumoured powered United Nations. He watched with helpless fury as the nearby Overseer tumbled off the skies when its crew failed to save the ship.

The shock of just seeing the enemy's tiny flyers deal so much damage to his fleet in barely half a turn of the sand glass had caused Grand Lord Hammerfall to feel fear. He watched as the fast black dots of the enemy flyers flew off after mauling his fleet.

Grand Lord Hammerfall was torn between chasing the retreating flyers and destroying them as they refuel and rearm. He knew that the locals here possessed no flying ships and he suspected that the flyers had come from a ship or some land base. If he pushed the remains of his fleet in pursuit of the enemy flyers, he could destroy them before the enemy rearms.

Or, he could retreat his fleet and come out with a method to defeat the enemy flyers and take the safer choice of retreating. As he was debating to himself on what should he do, a crew member called out and handed Grand Lord Hammerfall a message scroll."Grand Lord, a message from Lord Copperstone!"

He unfurled the message scroll with a frown and quickly read through the contents and his frown turned into a smile as he crumpled up the scroll in his fist with his mind made up. He turned to his bridge crew and yelled, "Order the fleet to pursue the enemy! Ships too damaged to move are to return to the nearest outpost for repairs!"

"We will pursue and destroy the enemy as they land and reservice their flyers! For Rock and Stone!"

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Task Force Flag, UNS Vengeance

"Order the fleet to ready for surface to air combat," Commander Ford ordered as he eyed the radar display. "Have air patrol stand by to intercept the approaching air fleet."

"Sir, the enemy fleet is still an hour out at their current speed and heading," Captain Nimo reported before asking. "Is there a need for the Task Force to engage the enemy fleet?"

"Yes, I want the Task Force to put the fear of the UN into their minds forever," Commander Ford replied as he continued looking at the radar screen. "Using aircraft to destroy the Cartel's air fleet will not be as effective as letting them watch a good ole fashion fleet blowing them off the skies."

"This way we can defeat them both physically and mentally," Commander Ford said. "We can force a surrender faster this way by making the survivors fear us."

"Will it work?" Captain Nimo asked. "The use of attack aircraft to destroy them will not put risk to the fleet..."

"I know, we will keep the engagement distance with the enemy at one point five kilometres," Commander Ford said. "It is enough distance for the enemy to see us and far enough for their weapons to be ineffective."

"It could work," Captain Nimo nodded.

"And we want to put a show of force to the Isles," Commander Ford added. "What's better than a live show of fireworks right on their doorstep!"

"They wanted us to engage the Cartel air fleet here at some secluded reef just beyond sight of any habited islands..." Commander Ford's finger tapped on the map on the tactical plot table. "But..."

With a wicked grin, Commander Ford traced his finger along the map to another location on the map and said, "We will instead move the Task Force here just off the north eastern coast of the First City, right where their entire city can see us. Then, all we need is to wait for the Cartel air fleet to come!"

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The Isles, First City of the Fleet, House Portia

Lady Gloria was seated on a chair that was helpfully provided by Mills as she tried to understand what happened to her eldest son. The knowledge of finding out that her son had turned into a statue of sorts had shaken her to the core. She was both horrified and happy at the same time, as she sat there dumbfounded staring at what was supposed to be her eldest son, Dijon.

"Dear... mother," The disembowelled voice came from the hulking statue. "I... know... this might... be hard to... accept..."

"But... I... am truly... your son... Dijon..." Dijon's voice coming out from two external mounted speakers on his midsection. "My... body... my soul... has been saved... by them..."

Dijon's mother stood up at gently touched the thickly armoured carapace surrounding Dijon's life support and a host of other electronics and mechanisms. High powered lenses behind a slit of armoured sapphire glass whirled as they focused on the wrinkle covered face of Lady Gloria.

A soft whine of machinery sounded as Dijon moved a three digit claw to gently wipe the drop of tear off his crying mother's face. "Do... not... be... sad... Mother... I am... fine and alive... despite... this appearance..."

"My son! It's really you?" Lady Gloria stared at the flat surface of the statue and at the claw that appeared. "You... can move? You are still alive!"

"Yes, Mother," Dijon replied as he demonstrated by moving his arms, "I still live."

"But... why have you become like this?" Lady Gloria asked as she looked up and down Dijon's metal body. "What happened?"

"It... is a long... story..." Dijon replied. "I... will explain later... Now... we have... no time..."

"Yes, madam," Mills stepped in. "We would need your help in getting your son into the Council Chambers."

"Why do you need to enter the Council Chambers?" Lady Gloria looked at the featureless statue that was her son and to the short eared soldier.

"It is best for you not to know... yet," Mills said mysteriously. "We know all the Houses have warehouses located within the walls of the Council Chambers, storing weapons, grain, and other essentials in the case of a siege."

"We just need your token of authority to let the guards allow us to enter through the Council Chambers' walls," Mills explained as best as he could without leaking too much operation information.

Lady Gloria looked at Dijon's blank features before she nodded and stood up, "Wait here, I shall ask my servants to fetch what you... require!"

"Thank you," Mills said gratefully before he made a turn to his officers. "Get the men ready!"

After a moment. the container truck rumbled out of the gates and once again entered the city streets. The driver sounded its horn impatiently as he navigated the truck through a curious crowd before finally arriving before a set of impressive looking stone gate where dozens of Isles guardsman stood sentry.

A token was displayed followed by a letter covered with more impressive looking seals followed by an exchange of words and a small bag of gold coins disappeared into the guardsmen hands, the gate leading into the city's granary and warehouses opened.

The truck drove into a tunnel that was lit by scores of glow lamps that led deep into the mountains where the Council Chamber was located at the peak. It soon came to a halt inside a massive cavern with elf made caves filled with barrels and crates of supplies.

Several guards and workers looked at the truck with curiosity as Mills hopped out from the truck cab. "Alright, we are here! Time to take over the world!"

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The Isles, The First City of the Fleet, Council of Masters' Chamber

Fleet Master Akron glanced at the handcrafted wooden timepiece hanging on the side of the Chambers, which was a gift to the Isles. The timepiece was a marvel of an artefact as it told time more accurately and efficiently compared to a sand glass.

Akron had always admired the timepiece but at this moment, he only had worrying thoughts as he constantly checked the time. Fleet Master Megan's plan was in full swing and now the only final piece was the giant ship of the United Nations doing its part in the grand scheme.

Earlier in the day, when Commander Ford of the United Nations came to the Council requesting an audience told the Council of the impending arrival of the Cartel invasion fleet, Akron had managed to convince the hooman to take his fleet out to meet the incoming Cartel fleet, and help protect the 'defenceless' Isles' city as the majority of the Isles' fleets were out there fighting against the Cartel and will not be able to return in time to protect the city.

He had even handed over the Home Fleet garrisoning the City under the command of the hooman to show his trust in him and finally managed to persuade the hooman to help the Isles. Akron even pressed on the urgent need to the hooman that they needed to defend a region that was about half a day of sailing time away from the city, citing that location was the best place to respond to any course changes of the Cartel air fleet.

Now, he glanced at the clock again, counting the time for all sides get into position, from the United Nations' fleet to Megan's hidden fleet and finally the Cartel's flying fleet. Once the United Nations and the Cartel started fighting, Megan's hidden fleet will move out from its hiding locations to reconquer back the islands taken by the Cartel.

Over fifty ships of various sizes and a combined total of nearly two hundred dragons, Megan's fleet had hidden in sheltered coves and sea caves waiting just for the right opportunity. With the majority of the Cartel flying ships away from the conquered islands, the overwhelming number of dragons and ships will be more than enough to defeat any remaining Cartel flying ships.

And Megan's underwater ship will lurk right where the United Nations' Fleet will be headed to and most likely Megan will strike when the United Nations' attention was focused against the Cartel!

He shook his head thinking how devious Megan's scheme was. To be able to force the Cartel out and attack its bases when it was undefended and next using the United Nations to destroy the Cartel before stepping in and quietly dealing a sneak attack at the United Nations without anyone knowing the truth!

And even if the giant United Nations' ship survived the sneak attack by Megan's underwater ship, the blame will never fall onto the Isles' shoulders as who would have thought that there was such a thing as a ship that could sail under the water!

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A ship that can sail underwater, you say? Madness, I say!


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neo Koh

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