"Git outta ma God Machine!" The goblin helicopter crew hissed at the Marines who hurried off the rear ramp of the hovering Griffin. The cargo helicopter was hovering at the edge of a jagged shard of rock, its pilot expertly hovered the Griffin's tail end just a foot off the edge. The Marines quickly disembarked and fanned out to cover their sectors.

The Marines had ridden the helicopter up the coastal cliffs and was deployed to recce and secure the surrounding areas of the hidden cove. All day, Marines had been deployed all over the surrounding areas by helicopter as no way was found leading up the cliff wall that looming hundreds of meters overhead.

Engineers dug tunnels and hollowed out chambers inside the rock cliffs, creating living quarters, workplaces and storage facilities. Cranes were deployed from the side of the carrier decks and started transferring the containers down to the beach and clearing the flight decks for air operations.

Another team of engineers surveyed the area around the waterfall for possible sites of hooking up a hydro generator. Divers continued to scour the waters around the cove for more hidden and dangerous reefs that might damage ship hulls and blew them away with planted explosives.

Naval Intel happily took over the captured pirates and started their interrogation, squeezing intel out from the pirates regarding the region and political situation. The slaves the pirates taken from the surrounding villages were set aside for the moment, awaiting their turn to be questioned, cleared, and sorted out according to their origins.

The remaining crew of the Vengeance were also kept busy as they had to service and conduct maintenance on the battle carrier from its month long journey through constant heavy weather. The Vengeance had suffered storm damage and the constant stress of rough weather had put a strain on its hulls and components.

Blake glanced down at the list of ongoing projects and tasks requiring his attention and put all his energy into the tasks. In the past two weeks, he was constantly overseeing the construction of the base that was being dug. Communications between the two continents were sporadic, only possible through lasering the passing satellite probe that passes overhead twice a day which limited the amount of communication data being uploaded to the satellite probe before the window disappeared as the satellite probe dropped over the horizon.

Blake had assigned Dr. Sharon as an ambassador for the UN and she had been busy as she visited the surrounding villages that had been pillaged by the pirates. She negotiated with the village elders and chiefs, for supplies and information and she also provided free basic medical services to the villages, which granted her much goodwill. In her visits, she found out that these isolated villages were all of the Banished, but despite the villagers liking her, they all remained tight lip in regards to their Banished sins and past.

"Sir," Intel Officer Rism knocked politely on the hatch of Blake's office. Rism originally assigned to the Kingdom of Foral's UN Foreign Affairs department had requested a transfer on board the UNS Vengeance when the call for volunteers came out. "We have sightings of the rest of the Hungry Hands' fleet."

"Deal with it," Blake replied without looking up from his work. "Update me when it's done!"

"Yes, Sir!"


Lowland Coast

Four hybrid steamships were sailing in a ragged formation, their single smokestack puffing out black smoke while its soot stained double sails were billowing in the wind. There was an image of a clutching hand was painted red on their sails which identified themselves as members of the Hungry Hands.

In the middle of the four steamships was another steamship except it did not have sail masts, making it a pure steamer. A pair of exposed paddle wheel sat in the middle of the colourfully painted ship and its size was almost twice that of the pirate ships.

Crazy Dan, ranked third on the Hungry Hands' captains was grinning from ear to ear as he squeezed the soft bouncy chest of the new slave girl in his arms. Their voyage to gather their monthly tribute from the Lowland villages had an unexpected surprise. A merchant vessel of the Loose Confeds had fallen into their hands and he knew those group of people and their mixed bred kind will pay a lot of ransom for the return of the ship and its crew!

In another week, he will return back to Waterfall Cove and with the merchant prize, his ranking and influence among the captains and crew would rise! He might even take second place! Crazy Dan thought to himself as he knocked back a bottle of local brew in high spirits.

"Captain!" A ragged crew member suddenly appeared before him and reported, "Lookout spotted something out in the horizon... It is a boat... yet not like any we seen before!"

"A boat?" Crazy Dan frowned and shoved the frightened girl off his lap. "Where?"

He was handed a looking glass and he pointed it towards the direction indicated. He scanned the waters and soon spotted what the lookouts were saying. A boat was moving along the water with no sails nor smokestacks, making it strange as the speed it was moving at did not look like someone was paddling.

Crazy Dan estimated the size of the boat to be just larger than their largest longboat and wondered if it was some new toy the rich had come out with. It has neither sails nor smokestacks, hence it might be powered by magic which only the very rich could afford. He scanned the waters around the boat and saw it was alone and the skies were empty of any airships.

"It must be some wealth folk out on some joy ride!" He lowered his looking glass and another wide smile broke out on his filthy face as he yelled down the decks. "Alright, boys! Looks like the Gods are on our side today! We got ourselves another prize!"

The pirate crew let out a joyous whop as they heard their captain's shout. The merchant prize which they had capture had already guarantee each and every one of them a share which would be more than enough for a few weeks worth of whores and drinks. Now with another prize, they would get even more shares!

"Signal to The Harlot and The Naked Dame to remain with our merchant prize!" Crazy Dan ordered. "The Damned and The Anger shall advance full speed on to our little prize!"

The pirate crew hurried manned their stations as the two leading pirate ships turned and headed straight for the boat that appeared to had spotted them. The boat too turned around and headed towards the shore while two pirate ships that were five times its size chased after it.

The distance between the ships closed rapidly as pirates' steamships made full steam towards the boat. The boat disappeared around the bend of the coastal line and the two pirate steamships followed eagerly until they too disappeared from sight from the rest of the pirate fleet.


UN Expeditionary Force, FAC - 04 'Mozzy'

Senior Seaman Leo watched the two fast approaching pirate ships following them around the bend and he grinned. He ducked down from his perch on the twin fifties mount and yelled excited into the pilothouse. "They are coming!"

The skipper nodded and picked up a handset and ordered, "All hands! Make ready for combat!"

Outside the pilothouse at the prow, the gunner manning the twin fifties gun turret, racked the bolts back, chambering a pair of .50 calibre cartridges into the weapon. At the same time, the rear twin 20 mm gun turret, the gunner did the same and turned the turret to track the approaching pirate ships. Leo returned to his gun mount and racked the bolts. He turned the gun sights and aimed the 'O' at the unsuspecting pirate ships and waited for the order.

Suddenly, from a hidden position on the coast, two more PT boats suddenly burst out of hiding. They skimmed across the waves like rockets as they charged towards the two pirate ships.

"Light them up!"

Leo already anticipating the order, squeezed down hard on the butterfly triggers of the twin fifties. Harsh yellow red tracers flickered out accompanied by loud thunder as all guns onboard the Mozzy opened up. The tracers seemed to converge towards the lead pirate ship and several tracers could be seen floating off into the skies as they bounced off the metal armour of the steamships.

The other two PT boats added in their firepower and the confused pirates milling around the top decks were mowed down like wheat from the sweeping fire from six pairs of fifty calibre guns. The 20 mm guns had better penetration and they punched through the metal wood laminate armour of the obsolete steamships that were originally bound to be scraped.

Sparks and blood flew as the forecastle of the leading pirate ship disintegrated into mangled metal and splintered wood. The pirate steamship continued in its headlong course as the helm was totally destroyed and there was also no one left to even steer the ship, ran aground with a wrenching groan of metal before its internal paddlewheels still turning at full speed, smashed themselves to pieces against the wet sand.

The second pirate steamship, seeing the unfortunate fate of its sister, tried to quickly turn and get out of the ambush zone. It even gave off a panicked volley of its steam cannons when the PT boats of the UN Expeditionary Force turned the attention of their guns at it.

It suffered the same fate, gaping holes appeared along the side of its hulls from the 20 mm guns and the decks were swept clean of anything living. The forecastle was chopped into pieces by hi powered armour piercing shells and the ship, helmless, followed after its sister as it ran aground shortly after.

Waiting Marines emerged out from the cover of the foliage along the coast and advanced towards the stranded steamships. They tossed grappling lines up the side of the ships while concealed snipers on the treetops engaged any threats on the deck and covered the assault of the Marines.

The three PT boats formed up and headed out towards the open sea. They rounded the coastal bend and spotted the remaining pirates at the same time those pirates spotted them. There was an attempt from the pirate ships to hit the PT boats with their steam cannon fire but the agile and fast PT boats were just impossible to hit without modern guidance or gyroscopes.

20 mm cannons and fifties barked and roared spitting death at the pirate ships. The forecastle where the helm was located was targeted followed by the paddlewheels inside the hull. Once the pirate ships' movement were disabled, the steam cannons were targeted next. The UN gunners were careful to not sink the pirate ships as they do not know if they were carrying any innocents turned slaves onboard.

Hence, the pirate ships could only be disabled and Marines will board to clear them later. The one sided battle was over quickly and the frightened pirate prize crew on board the Loose Confederation trade ship quickly surrendered after witnessing the overwhelming power of the three small boats.

The PT boats kept their guns trained on the disabled pirate ships and awaiting the troop transports bearing Marines to board and take over the ships. It took them the better part of the day to transfer all the captured pirates, slaves, goods and other useful items onto the merchant prize before the two pirate ships were scuttled by planted explosives on the bottom of their hulls.

It was night when the twice captured merchant ship and its unusual escorts of three boats that were just a fifth or less smaller but possessed enough firepower to sink the ship a hundred times over, headed back to their new home on this new continent.

A note from neo Koh

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neo Koh


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