Task Force Flag, 3rd Flotilla, UNS Braveheart
The 3rd Flotilla of the Task Force had been assigned to SAR duty and the UNS Braveheart, a goblin class corvette was combing the waters for any signs of survivors on the flotsam that covered the greater part of the ocean around the ship.
All available hands onboard the ship was lined up along the railings and were trying to spot any survivors while the ship cruised along slowly. Pieces of wreckage bumped gently along the hull and once every while, a cry sounded and one of the two motorboats dropped by the corvette would roar across the waves and a body would be recovered from the water.
Some survivors were picked up from the waters but most of the time, it would be a dead body with missing parts. Despite that, the UN sailors continued to bring the dead up to be identified and accounted for before given a proper burial later. The rescued and retrieved bodies were transferred to the waiting ships of the Isles' Home Fleet to be taken to a nearby island turned prisoner holding area.
The crew of the 3rd Flotilla knew they were working against time in finding any survivors as the dead would attract sea monsters and chances of fishing survivors out would drop drastically. Inside the small bridge of the corvette, the sonar operator had his ears glued to the headset as he listened hard for the approach of any sea monster.
"Cap!" The sonar operator of the UNS Braveheart suddenly called out while the adjusted the dials and settings on his station. "I got something on the sonar!"
"... Contact! Bearing starboard zero one two, range five hundred meters!" The sonar operator reported.
The Captain scanned the water surface with his binoculars before he ordered. "Weapons! Standby with a medium pattern of depth charges!"
"Aye aye! Medium pattern attack!" The weapons officer intoned. He past on the order to his men who rushed to man the 'Y' shaped launchers mounted in the middle and also the depth charge racks mounted at the stern.
"Contact bearing port zero zero one, range four hundred, Sir!" The sonar operator called out. "Contact dead ahead!"
"All ships," The Captain picked up the comms and sent a broadcast to the ships of the 3rd Flotilla. "Braveheart has picked up a sea monster contact! Heading over to chase it away, over!"
"Roger that, Braveheart!" The 3rd Flotilla commander replied over the comms. "Good hunting!"
"Contact bearing starboard zero zero one, range three hundred, Sir!" The sonar operator continued to call out as the UNS Braveheart charged forward. "Contact inside minimum sonar range, sir!"
"Can you identify what kind of sea monster is that?" The Captain asked as he continued to scan the waters with his binoculars.
The sonar operator switched out to hydrophones and he frowned as he tried to identify the type of sea monster from the noises it would make. The UN navy had collected underwater recordings of known sea monsters around the waters of the New World and sonar operators were required to study them when they were in training.
"Hydrophone loud! Very loud!" The long ears of the operator twitched as the noise made by the sea monster was unlike anything he heard before. "Sir, unable to ID the contact!"
"A new type of sea monster?" The Captain put down his binoculars and frowned when the operator suddenly called out again.
"Sir! Machine! It's some sort of engine noise!" The operator was shocked as he finding recognized some of the noise the sea monster was making. When he first heard the racket underwater, he was confused as it did not sound like anything a living creature would make, yet the noises sounded familiar to him.
"Sir, contact is some kind of underwater ship!" Finally, it hit him that the noise the sea monster was making sounded like steam engines! And as the UNS Braveheart came even closer to the contact, he clearly heard illegible conversation underwater! "We are right over it!"
"What?" The Captain and the bridge crew was as surprised as the sonar operator. The Captain hesitated only for a second as he did not know whether the underwater contact was a friend or foe before he made up his mind. "WEAPONS! NOW! DROP THEM!"
The weapons officer holding his handset calmly ordered his crew to open fire. "Roll and fire! Medium pattern! Roll and fire!"
Hearing the order to fire, the gun crews manning the pair of Y gun depth charge projectors jerked the firing lanyard and the fuze set barrel shaped depth charges fitted to the ends of the Y were propelled out with a blast. Meanwhile, at the stern, another crew pulled a lever and dumped several depth charges with their fuzes set off the stern racks.
The Captain rushed out of the bridge and he looked to the stern, just in time to watch the depth charges hitting the water with a splash. Seconds later, several pillars of waters behind the UNS Braveheart shot up into the skies in sequence with loud thunderous booms.
"Hard right rudder!" The Captain returned to the bridge and ordered before stepping out again to scan the waters with his binoculars where the depth charges had detonated.
The UNS Braveheart turned around and suddenly a crewmember yelled out, "Debris! Starboard side! Range two hundred!"
Quickly, the Captain looked towards the direction given and he saw what appeared to be an even darker patch appearing on the already dark ocean surface. "Bring us about next to that! See if we find out what the hell is that thing we just blew out of the water!"
The Isles, First City of the Fleet, Council of Masters Chamber
Pain. There was pain everywhere. Dijon jolted up from the pain in his slumber and slowly information flowed into his brain. His electronic eyes saw that he was inside the Council chambers, the metal shell that covered his body was seated on the edge of the raised dais.
There were dozens of people moving around inside the chambers and already the debris and damaged doors had been swept and cleaned. As if nothing had ever happened, even the round table in the centre of the chamber had been replaced. The only signs of damage were the cracked marble tiles that had yet to be replaced.
Several pages carrying handfuls of scrolls were running here and there and he saw his mother with her salt and pepper hair, having aged greatly since the last he saw her, standing together with the hooman, Mills, was conversing with several Council members, no, ex Council, he corrected himself.
"Mother..." He called out and the people around were startled by his voice. They did not realise that he was watching them as he had remained sitting there dead as a statue for quite some time.
"My son!" Lady Gloria stepped away from the ex Council members with an apologetic smile. "You have awakened?"
"Yes... How long... was... I... asleep?" Dijon asked as his electronic sight 'looked' around him. He could 'see' a couple of thick hoses were connected to his back to a large unidentified object that had glowing lights and strange noises coming out of it which he knew was something that kept his metal body alive.
"Almost two hours," Lady Gloria replied with a sad smile. "They... say you need something for your pain... Are you alright now?"
"Yes..." Dijon lied. He could still feel fire coursing through his veins but thankfully, his electronic vocals could not pick up tones and pitch hence he was always speaking in a monotonic voice. Nor could his expression be seen, since he was encased inside a tank filled with medical syrup and covered by thick metal plating.
"We have been trying to unscrew the work did by Megan and Akron," Mills said as he joined their conversation. "While you are out from the meds they gave you."
"We set up a docking station here for you," Mills said in a lowered voice. "Where you can recharge your power cells and administer your meds."
"Also, we will be training a core of people," Mills glanced to Lady Gloria before he added. "Your own trusted people, on how to work these machines that will keep you alive."
"For now, your mother has taken over the running of the Isles," Mills summarized. "Fleet Master Tediore has also been arrested for his involvement with the conspiracy with Akron and Megan."
"Word has spread to the citizens," Lady Gloria said with a smile. "They now know of the evil doings of Megan. Families of the First, Three, Fifth Fleet and the Eastern Island merchants were up in arms once they heard that the lives of their husbands, fathers and sons were used as chess pieces for Megan plans..."
"Many are calling for her to answer for her evil deeds," Lady Gloria sighed. "But no one knows where she is..."
"Akron... did... not tell?" Dijon asked.
"Nope," Mills replied. "Him and Tediore are being interrogated still. So far we did get some useful intel from Tediore but Akron was surprising tight lipped."
"But we found several interesting things among the property of Megan." Mills grinned and he gave a wink to Lady Gloria who blushed, "Your mother led a group of guardsmen to raid Megan's properties and we found out Megan has several secret docks hidden in caves."
"There we found out that Megan was stockpiling dozens of steam engines and boilers..." Mills continued, his smile turning to a frown on his face. "There were even cannons, barrels of black powder and even some type of musket."
"I think she is experimenting secretly on how to make weapons like ours," Mills explained to the blank face shown by Lady Gloria. "I have some of my men going over the stuff there and should get a more detailed report once they are done."
"All... that... in two... hours?" Dijon was surprised. He did not expect his gentle and quiet mother had such capabilities to accomplish so much in that short period of time. "W- Wow..."
Lady Gloria gave a sad smile and she said, "I have to learn how to run the House and businesses that you left behind! Even the affairs of the Third Fleet fell into my hands! And your brothers..."
Dijon hearing that felt his pain worsen, "I am... sorry... for causing... you... pain... mother..."
"It's alright, as long as you are back!" Lady Gloria smiled warmheartedly at Dijon. "Despite you looking like this... as long as I know you are inside and we can always talk!"
Mills felt embarrassed by the situation and he stepped away quietly, giving the mother and son a moment of privacy. He walked over to the group of ex Council members who had disgruntled expressions on their faces and smiled cheerfully at them. "Well, gentlemen. What do you think of the UN proposal?
"Becoming a vassal of the UN?" The ex Council members were unhappy and some even had looks of anger in their eyes. "Are you threatening us?"
"No, no," Mills continued to smile as he clasped his hands behind his back. "You guys got screwed over by Megan. Now, you have left with what? A part of the Home Fleet and Third Fleet?"
"Majority of the Fourth and Fifth Fleet are still loyal to Megan," Mills pointed out. "Which means they outnumber you, at least, ten to one!"
"And there is still the matter with the Cartel..." Mills continued to point out. "If you drag this on... It will not only be civil war... But when the Cartel returns... they will look for revenge among you... Cause... we won't be here!"
Hearing his words, the ex Council members were silenced. They glanced at each other, knowing that they were powerless to resist any form of invasion. Mills sighed seeing the uncertainty among the Islanders and he decided to throw out a bone to them.
"You do know that if you become part of the UN... You get access to our technology and knowledge..."