Task Force Flag, UNS Vengeance, Command Bridge
Commander Ford watched the command staff move tiny figurines representing different squadrons of the Vengeance's 1st Attack Wing on the tactical map against the cluster of figurines representing the ships of Megan.
"1st Attack Wing coming into attack range of the enemy fleet," A command staff recited from the side as information was passed on from flight ops. "1st Attack Wing beginning their attack runs."
As the minutes ticked by, figures representing Megan's loyalist fleet were removed off the board and a command staff reported, "1st Attack Wing returning to base. Munition zero."
"ETA 34 minutes," The staff added as another wrote on the chalkboard detailing the time of arrival next to the 1st Attack Wing. "Sir, CAG is asking if you want to launch the 2nd Attack Wing?"
Commander Ford rubbed his chin in thought as he looked at the remaining survivors of Megan's fleet. An estimated seventy nine out of a hundred and three ships remained, their estimated numbers written on a placard set next to red painted tiny wooden pieces carved like ship hulls on the table. A large display screen on the side was showing footage taken by the shadowing recon plane was showing thick smoke covering the enemy fleet, making it almost impossible to see anything.
"Anything on our radar?" Ford asked. "In the air? Surface?"
"A couple of surface contacts, AWACS is tracking them," His aide reported back. "AWACS thinks they might be merchants. The air is clear except for a flock of dragons nine klicks out heading in a south east direction."
"Alright, tell CAG to launch his planes," Ford replied. "Let's get this chase over before sundown..."
The 2nd Attack Wing pilots that were on standby were chit chatting inside the hangar bay rushed off to their aircraft when the order came down, leaving Plee, Blue Thunder and Saphia behind. All three of them stared wistfully at the pilots as they climbed on board their planes while flight crew in colourful jackets fussed over their machines.
Tractors started towing aircraft to the waiting elevators while the trio watched on. Blue Thunder sighing as he felt left out of the action, Saphia staring wide eyed with excitement at all the tek no lo gee and 'magic' happening all around her while Plee watched grumpily as she could not play with her powers at all.
"I could boom boom every bad burger thief from here!" Plee declared. "No need to vroom vroom over!"
Blue Thunder broke into a grin as he replied, "Yea kiddo, sure you do! Hehehe!"
"How I wish I could fly in one of those... fighter planes!" Saphia mumbled at the side as she watched the aircraft being sent to the upper decks. "They all can fly so fast!"
Plee let out a sigh, "I bored... Everyone busy... No offerings... No burgers..."
"Let's go watch the planes take off and land!" Blue Thunder suggested. "They say you can't leave the hangar but we could still see the planes fly!"
"Really?" Plee perked up and Blue Thunder allowed her to climb up onto his head. "Let's go!"
Once he was certain she was seated properly on his head, he and Saphia made their way across the hangar decks, making sure not to get into any of the hangar crew's way and they came up to the side of the hull facing the sea. Several hatches were opened at the side, which a cooling sea breeze was blowing in. The hatches were large enough for Blue Thunder and Saphia to poke their head and necks out. Both dragons laid on their backs so that they can comfortably stretch their necks to see what was happening above.
"Oh god damn it!" A startled yellow coated deck crew yelled out when suddenly next to him two dragon heads and a smiling god girl appeared on the side of the flight deck. "You guys scared me!"
"Don't mind us," Blue Thunder replied cheerfully over the incredible roar of engines powering up on the flight deck.
"OOOO!" Plee exclaimed excitedly as she watched the winged machines roar off the decks one after another. "I want to fly in one too!"
Saphia bobbed her head in agreement as her eyes shined brightly. "I want to fly in one too!"
By one, the heads of the two dragons had been spotted by many of the deck crew who ignored their antics as they were used to them. The pilots on the other hand cheerfully gave Plee a Faith of Superior Firepower! salute with three fingers opened out which represented their holy trinity symbol of three artillery shells.
The effect of the salute made Plee's body glow softly, which made Blue Thunder giggle, "Ooh ooh! Divine manifestation!"
"Ummmmmmmmmm!" Blue Thunder closed his eyes and hummed as he put on an expression of enlightenment. He cracked an eye open and asked Saphia, "How do I know? Like some dragon god with a halo on his head?"
"Hahahaa!" Saphia giggled at the side while Plee poked Blue Thunder on his head.
"I God! You mount!" She declared angrily, stamping her small feet on Blue Thunder's head, making him giggle as her feet tickled his eyebrows.
"Hehehe!" Blue Thunder giggled. "I'm a dragon god!"
Commander Ford shook his head as he watched the antics of the trio from the viewport of the command bridge. "I seriously do not know how to feel about this..."
Captain Nimo joined Ford at the viewport and he looked down, seeing the orange glow fading away on the body of Plee. "Well... The crew really loves her and she... does boast morale a lot..."
"This feels like a comedy show," Commander Ford sighed. "We are a fighting outfit but... here these... jokers... just make everything seem... surreal..."
Captain Nimo could only give a helpless shrug as he too did not know how to handle the situation. In the end, Commander Ford gave up and he returned to serious business, the business of war and killing.
The New World, United Nations, Haven, Fortress Singapore
Blake pushed aside the pile of documents and stood up, facing the map of the New World on the large display on the wall. His hands trembled slightly as his body craved for a dose of the drug Happy, but he forced his urge down. He needed his mind to be clear at least for now as he digested the earlier reports that came in.
Sixty per cent of the ex Council of the Isles had expressed their wish to become part of the UN while the remainder were still hesitating or against the merger. A new Council will be reformed at a later date but in the meantime, the governance of the Isles was being run by Dijon's mother, backed by the power of the UN.
And in the other report, the captured Cartel's Grand Lord was offering terms of surrender. Blake was greatly interested in some of the Cartel's technology, especially after reading the after action report of their ability to block their 3" guns bombardment. But with the airships using that technology destroyed, there wasn't much he could do about that now unless he forced the Cartel prisoners to cough up the technology.
One good thing that came out of the surrender of the Cartel was the amount of compensation, but Blake was suspicious as to whether they had the ability to pay. In any case, if they can't pay up, they would make good workers in the mines, since they seemed to love mining so much, though Blake.
Finally, with the Cartel surrendering, he could at last cross over to the Old World to search for Sherene and his child. His child should be born by now and the thought of that made him felt a stab of pain in his heart, as he wondered both mother and child were safe.
He closed his eyes, letting the pain in his heart run its course. When he reopened his eyes, they were filled with determination. He glanced back to the map and tapped at a couple of locations and asked the waiting figures standing patiently behind him. "General Joseph, the reports say that there are still defeated remnants of the Old World forces here and here, yes?"
"Yes, Sir," General Joseph replied. "We know of the Iron Kingdom and Tri State forces are still hiding around the mountainous regions of the Island called Exile within the borders of the Empire."
"And here," He reached out and pointed to another spot on the map. "We have more Protectorate forces that came in another wave also hiding among the mountains within the vicinity of Fort Hensink."
"We can't send troops to Exile Island but our troops at Fort Hensink has been constantly sending out combat patrols to sweep the Sky Mountains where the remains of the Protectorate is hiding at."
"So far, we managed to destroy a few camps and hidden airships here and there," General Joseph said. "And we also managed to capture two airships that they hid in the forest around the Sky Mountains."
"But... It's like trying to dig for gnawers..." General Joseph sighed. "The Protectorate has adopted a guerrilla style warfare. They had been hitting villages and travellers around the region."
"Do what you need to flush them out once and for all," Blake replied. "They have limited supplies and only so many bodies. And I doubt the locals would help them."
General Joseph nodded, "The locals hate them to the core as they had been kidnapping people and livestock."
"We are evacuating the villages and relocating them further away, but there are some people that do not want to leave their homes," General Joseph said helplessly. This kind of battle was something new to him. "We plan to ambush any Protectorate forces by having our troops hiding in those villages that still have people unwilling to leave."
Blake nodded before he turned to Intel Officer Tavor and said, "Continue to monitor the situation in the Empire on those Old Worlders."
"Yes, Sir" Tavor replied.
"What of Megan?" Blake asked as he sat down back at his table. "Any news?"
"No sir, but my agents had uncovered something interesting," Tavor said and he handed over a file. "According to my agents inside the Isle's First City, they dug around the secret docks uncovered by the Isles' guardsmen when they stormed Megan's Estate and found these."
Blake looked at the black and white photos inside the file and frowned. "What is this?"
The photo showed a partial drawing of some kind of sea monster's tail. Another photo showed more drawings of the tail but what appeared to be gears and some kind of machinery drawn inside. Tavor explained, "These are some blueprints of a mechanized sea monster we suspected that Megan had built."
"A mechanized sea monster?" Blake was surprised. "What does this even do or mean?"
"From the bits and pieces of drawings my agents found inside the fireplace, and the rolls of sea dragon skins. We suspect that it could be some kind of submarine built like a sea monster," Tavor said. "But, I would hesitate to call it a submarine as it should be more of a crude submersible instead as I doubt they have the technology and know how to even build a sub..."
"Sea dragon skins?" Blake asked as he did not know what was that. "A submersible?"
"Sea dragon skins are known locally to be waterproof and it is mostly used as a form of raincoat or even coat the hulls of ships to prevent any leak," Tavor explained. "Looking at the pieces of clues, we can more or less guess what the drawings and the skins do."
"But to further confirm our suspicions, my agents are combing the First City to find the workers that worked in that secret docks," Tavor said. "But if my guess is correct, this is why we have not found Megan yet..."
"She is hiding under the water that is why we could not find her at all!"