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The Old World, ???

A head burst out of the ocean's surface and the boy shook the water from his head sending drops of water glittering under the scorching sun. He heaved a small woven net made out of grass onboard the tiny catamaran canoe that was filled with his harvest of the day's shellfish and seaweed.

The boy climbed onboard his body lean and tan from the constant toil under the hot sun and paddled his way back to shore towards several huts made out of straw and wood at the bottom of a sheer cliff wall. That was the simple fishing village the boy grew up in.

He dragged his canoe up the white sandy beach and tied it off to a nearby tree before excitedly carried his catch of the day to a small dilapidated hut. "Sis! Look what I have caught!"

The boy showed off his small net of seafood and placed it down on a wooden top before he sat down next to the straw bed where his sister was lying down covered in a thread thin blanket. He checked her forehead to see if she was feverish and smiled back at her. "I will make some soup for you! Just wait!"

His sister gave a nod and the boy rushed off to prepare the fresh seafood he caught. After a while, the smell of cooked seafood filled the tiny hut as the boy stirred a pot of soup. Once the soup was done, he carefully tore out the meat from the shellfish into smaller and brought it over to his little sister and carefully fed her.

As he fed her, he told her made up tales of monsters and adventurers of the outside world. His sister listened to his tales excitedly and before long, she slipped back into sleep. The boy carefully wiped his sis's face clean before he went out again to the sea.

The boy had sought help with the village's only herbalist but no medicine seemed to work. The elders and village chief spoke of a rare magical pearl that could be found out in the deep waters that could cure a hundred different illness but no one has ever see such a pearl before.

Undaunted, the boy kept diving and searching for a cure for his little sister that was just five years younger than himself. As usual, he paddled out far into the ocean, around the bend of the cliffs and beyond the safe limits which the villagers warned him about, towards a reef shelf that he discovered a few weeks back.

The reef shelf jutted out of the ocean floor and the reef was teeming with life as it was never discovered by the other villagers. The reef provided rich harvests for the boy as he swam around the reef shelf. He avoided the darker areas as he knew that was not areas he could enter without endangering himself.

Armed with a blunt knife, he pried away a few shells off the rock reefs and shoved them inside his bag before swimming up. As he burst out of the water, he let out his held air and suck in a breath of fresh air and he suddenly froze. He stared at the strange giant object that appeared out of nowhere that seemed to cover the entire horizon.

"What... is that?"

-----

The side cargo hatch groaned as it was lowered down. Almost instantly, Saphia and Rastraz both threw themselves off the edge of the lowered hatch and dropped like a stone into the ocean. Blue Thunder and the rest of the hangar crew poked their heads out of the hatch and watched the two dragons swimming in delight.

"Erm... sorry guys," Blue Thunder mumbled an apology. "I think they got too cooped up inside..."

Two crying screech came from his chest and he looked down onto his harness where two tiny dragonlings, one red and one blue were bobbing their heads up and down in excitement. Their tiny eyes still closed and they wagged their wings adorably. "Awww... my tiny babies are hungry?"

Blue Thunder shuffled back to his bay where he had an industrial fridge that had been customized for dragon sized creatures and opened it where he pulled out a trolley that had been stacked with slabs of frozen fish and meat. He carefully picked up a fish that was super tiny in his two claws and he breathed out some hot breathe to defrost the tiny fish.

He carefully fed the fish to one of his kids before repeating the process and fed the other. Once fed, both dragonlings mew happily before dozing off again. The two dragonlings had hatched just a week ago and Blue Thunder was so proud of himself that he wanted to show off his kids to everyone.

"Ahhh... I feel alive again after a shower!" Rastraz sighed blissfully as she waggled in with Saphia behind her. "The air in here is starting to get bad!"

"If you two did not keep vomiting..." Blue Thunder mumbled under his breath as he gently swagged himself to make the twins sleep. "And I had to clean up all your mess..."

"What?" Rastraz frowned as she gave a suspicious glare at Blue Thunder. "Did you say something?"

"No- Nothing!" Blue Thunder quickly replied with a panicked grin. "I- I was whispering to the twins!"

"Hmph!" Rastraz tilted her head away and ignored Blue Thunder as she leaned over to check on her two younglings and unstrapped the carrier away from Blue Thunder's chest harness. She took her children into her embrace and cooed over them.

Saphia also came over and the two dragons started playing with the sleepy dragonlings, leaving Blue Thunder ignored. He gave a sigh and wandered off to find someone who knew what was the situation now.

-----

"Sir, land sighed," Captain Nimo of the Vengeance reported. "According to satellite images, we should be along the coast of the Great Highlands. Cartel territory."

Blake nodded as he glanced at the magnified image of the coastal lands. Captain Nimo continued his report, "We will reach landfall within four hours at our current speed and heading."

"Have the ship ready for landfall," Blake ordered. "Bring our status up to condition yellow."

"Aye aye, Sir!" Captain Nimo replied. "Status to condition yellow!"

The captain turned and issued Blake's order. Almost instantly, the public announcement started addressing the crew. "Attention all hands! Set condition yellow throughout the ship! Repeat! Set condition yellow!"

The crew hearing the address, ran off to their stations. With condition yellow in place, the crew was expected to enter combat at any moment. The crew having survived the End Zone, moved with professionalism and skill as they squeezed past each other in the narrow confines of the ship's passageway that was filled with supplies.

"Marines are to ready themselves for combat landings," Blake turned to Major James who was standing over the map table. "Secure the landing zone and prep the ground to receive supplies and construction of a forward operating base."

"Yes, Sir!" Major James replied and he left the admiral's bridge to attend to his troops. Blake turned to Commander Peter who was the CAG of the Vengeance. "Once the flight decks are cleared for operations, start launching birds into the air for recon and aerial coverage."

Commander Peter nodded and he too left the bridge. Blake turned to the rest of the senior officers and department heads and said, "All of you should know what to do next. Prepare your men, we have six hours before landfall."

"Yes, Sir!"

-----

The massive grey object turned out to be some sort of massive ship that does not have any sails. The boy assumed it was some kind of steam ship and he waved excitedly at it. He had once seen an airship flying overhead the village but it was just only a tiny dot in the sky. His parents had pointed to it and told him about the flying vessel and he had dream for months of riding such an amazing flying ship.

Now this ship that appeared was like ten ten times the size of any ships he had ever seen before. He saw figures moving around the decks and side of the ship and he waved harder in excitement. Before long, it appeared he was spotted as something was came out from the side and it came towards him at an unnatural speed.

-----

Senior Seaman Leo hang on to the safety bars around his turret as FAC - 04 'Mozzy' went flying over a wave. The high powered fast attack craft landed smoothly and was on its way again without any pause in its speed. The motorboat swept through the waves and did a beautiful powered loop around the small canoe before coming to a halt and Leo could see the boy giving them a starry eyed stare of amazement.

Leo wondered if the pilot did that loop just to mess with the kid. The Lieutenant popped out from the pilothouse's hatch and yelled over in the new Trade Tongue they had to learn, "Hey boy? What is this place called?"

The boy's mouth opened and closed like he was in shock but he recovered when the Lieutenant gave a clap with his hands. "Oh, Ah! M- My Lord! This is Sharp's Coast!"

"My village is just beyond that bend!" The boy excitedly pointed. "Who are you, my Lords?"

The Lieutenant gave a grin at the boy's enthusiastic reply and said, "We are not Lords."

"Is there any soldiers or Lords around?" The Lieutenant asked as the boy paddled his canoe closer. "How big is your village? Any other towns nearby?"

"Oh... my Lord, I am not sure..." The boy shook his head and gestured down the coast. "I have never been out of my village... I only heard there is another village down yonder, just two days of walking or sailing..."

The Lieutenant nodded and leaned into the hatch to give instructions while the boy stared around the sleek looking motor craft. He has never seen such a steamboat before that could sail so fast that it can fly across the water! The boy caught the eye of Leo who was staring down at him and the boy blushed as he quickly looked down to his feet.

"Think you can be our guide to your village?" The Lieutenant asked the boy suddenly.

"My Lords! I will be happy too!" The boy replied excitedly. "Ah... my, my Lord?"

"Yes?" The Lieutenant looked at the boy. "You don't have to call me Lord, just called me Sir..."

"Ah yes.. My Sir..." The boy fidgeted nervously as he wondered should he be so daring to request something from these people who obviously must be very powerful and wealthy. "M- my sister..."

"My sister... she is very sick..." The boy stammered. "Do... do you have a... pearl of recovery-?!"

The boy cut off mid sentence as he stared at the large approaching fleet of steamboats that appeared. He suddenly felt a cold chill down his spine that was caused by the cold ocean waters and he instantly regretted agreeing to guide these strangers.

-----

The well deck of the carrier had been carried for action ever since the order was passed down. Landing crafts had been released from their moorings and the small crew had checked the engine and the hull for any signs of damage from the crossing of the End Zone and found none.

Waiting Marines boarded the waiting LCVP together with armoured vehicles and spider tanks. Once fully ladened, the LCVPs motored out of the well deck and formed up alongside the Vengeance while keeping a safe distance. Getting smashed against the hull of the Vengeance was something an LCVP could handle.

Once all the LCVPs had loaded up and formed up, they charged against the ocean with a couple of PT boats as an escort, heading towards the lone PT boat and canoe that was bobbing on the waves.

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neo Koh

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