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The engine to the Hulking Hippo roared loudly as the ship sailed at full speed, rapidly burning through its energy supplies. Maldy had pointed the ship northward again, away from Ratchet, and was using every once of force he could to keep them going. Only Maldy, and now Flagg, were aware of their destination – the Dragonblight, for reasons unknown. It wasn't long before they sailed clear past Ratchet, and pressed northward, deep into the heart of Horde-controlled waters. The wind was blowing even more powerfully, sometimes in their favor, other times so powerfully against them the ship could barley move. The elements were still very much unpredictable, but Maldy didn't care. Soon they began to carry a chill in them from the north, and the smell of rain. Still, Maldy continued the orders to press on.
He had tightly secured the captain's cabin, leaving at least four fully armed guards outside of it at all times. It wasn't for his own protection, but rather protection of his precious treasure that he now kept there, fearful to hide it anywhere else on the ship. The Trade Prince was now near the bow-most point of the ship with Flagg attentively by his side. Off in the distance, a familiar rumbling could be heard as specs of black began to appear on the distant horizon.
Maldy tilted his head to Flagg, "Flagg?"
"Yes sir?" Flagg said.
Maldy paused and looked back off at sea, "I don't like you, Flagg, nor you I. I can tell." There was an awkward silence. Maldy continued, "But, in the past, you have been a great ally to me, and just aided me in the imprisonment… finally… of Lady Silvertongue. Your loyalty is questionable, Commander, but not a lost cause. I will need a loyal army in the days to come, Flagg, for reasons I cannot share with you. But first and foremost, I suppose it is best to simply ask, can I trust you, Flagg? Do you trust yourself to trust me?"
Flagg gulped, "I swore loyalty to you, Trade Prince Maldy. I swore to protect you and follow your orders, and that is what I plan to do."
Maldy glared quickly and suspiciously at Flagg, but then muttered "For your sake, I hope you're right. We are heading to the Dragonblight. I know you overheard that earlier. There, I will deliver the goblins to power and riches unlike anything they've ever heard of, all thanks to that little black box in my cabin right now. I can't spare the details, especially to one who's loyalty is not yet… proven. I am in the middle of forming a special group of those most loyal to me, and I certainly hope, and would really like, if I could count on you to share this glory with me." Maldy paused as thunderous echoes of cannon fire could be heard in the distance, straight in the path of the Hulking Hippo. He turned back to Flagg one last time and whispered, "Think about it."
"You wanted to see me sir?" Globberport's grungy voice bellowed from behind them.
"Ah yes, Globberport, come here." Maldy said, motioning him over. He turned to Flagg and said, "You are dismissed, Flagg."
Flagg nodded, pivoted and left. As he did, he could hear Maldy starting up the exact same conversation with Globberport that he had with him. The Trade Prince was in fact making a loyalty circle, and right now, Flagg was not entirely within it. Interestingly, he wasn't sure if he wanted to be. Contemplating in the inside, but not displaying it on the outside, Flagg headed down to the cargo hold to consider his fate as the ship sailed closer and closer to the battlefield.
Meanwhile, in the cargo hold, Mida sat with her trusty companion Bowie and a band of her most loyal followers. All around the hold Maldy's guards stood armed and ready; lances drawn in defensive stances and goblin engineered guns at their waists. This time, Maldy wasn't messing around, nor taking any chances. The hold was beyond silent, as the goblins were terrified of incurring the wrath of Maldy's men.
"Well, now what?" Fizzex whispered to Mida. She didn't respond.
"We can't just stay here." Roulette said.
"We can't risk escape." Mida said, "Those guards have guns now. If any one of us tries to escape, they'll kill anyone and everyone in here."
"Well what do you suggest we do?" Redcloak asked.
"I…" Mida started. "I don't know."
There was silence for several minutes, as each individual goblin wracked their brains to come up with a plan.
Back above deck, the Hulking Hippo was drawing closer and closer to the ships on the horizon. Smoke and flame became visible as four distinct vessels emerged from the waves; three of the mysterious, black Alliance ships to the east and the terrifying sight of a Horde Juggernaut to the west, all exchanging fire. Many of Maldy's men above deck saw the horror before them and grew nervous.
"Trade Prince Maldy?" A guard stammered, "Are you aware of that battle up ahead?"
"Of course I am!" Maldy barked, "Don't worry boys and girls, they won't fire on us. No ship out here would attack an Undermine vessel, and if they did the consequences would be dire."
"But, sir?" The guard asked, "They already have attacked an Undermine vessel out here. And the consequences wouldn't exactly be much considering that Undermine is no more."
"Don't impugn my orders!" Maldy shouted, "This is the fastest route to the Dragon… I mean, our destination, and simple pirates won't get in my way."
The guards looked at each other in confusion. They swore loyalty to Maldy and could not question him, yet they had all finally lived a few days outside his delusional bubble under Mida's command. Now, being trapped within his cell of false reality, the guards all seemed to realize just how insane their Prince really was as the thundering explosions of war grew louder and louder.
Back in the cargo hold, Commander Flagg approached the silent group of goblins huddled around Mida.
"Just what do you think you're doing?" Ulyssandra demanded, intercepting the Commander on his way to Mida.
"Yeah, get lost traitor!" Napalm shouted.
"I need to speak with Her Tallest." Flagg said, "It is urgent and concerns all of our safety."
The other goblins were unyielding. Immediately, they stood up and formed a wall around Mida and Bowie, preventing Flagg from even getting close. They all stared him straight in the eye, unafraid, and stood steadfast by their champion.
Mida, however, slowly stood up and walked towards Flagg, "What do you want, Flagg?"
"I know where we're going." He said, "And I think I may know why."
A muffled boom could be heard from inside the cargo hold and the ship shook slightly.
"What was that?" Brumley asked.
"Cannon fire." Flagg said, "Maldy's sailing us right into another battlefield." The cargo hold suddenly grew in worried chatter as a few more explosions shook the ship. Flagg looked straight at Mida, "Please, it's urgent."
The goblins still would not move. They were defensive of their new leader and would not risk her safety.
"Stand down." Mida said, somewhat reluctantly. The other goblins still did not move, but rather looked up to Mida in confusion. More explosions, now louder and with whistling, could be heard outside the ship as many of the children began crying from the loud noise. "I said stand down!"
The goblins reluctantly stepped out of the way. Mida took two steps forward, and Bowie proudly followed her.
"This is for Her Tallest's ears only." Flagg said, looking at all the goblins around.
Mida sighed, looked to the other goblins, and nodded them away. They were angry, concerned and reluctant, but still they obeyed her orders. Bowie, however, still stood by Mida's side.
"I'm not talking until he leaves." Flagg said, pointing at Bowie.
"Bowie stays." Mida said sternly.
Flagg exhaled harshly, "This is very important information My Tallest. I can't afford to let anyone else…"
"Bowie stays." Mida said, interrupting the Commander.
Flagg groaned, shot Bowie and evil glare, but then turned back to Her Tallest, drew his head in close between her and Bowie's, and began to whisper, "I know where the Trade Prince is going."
"Where?" Mida immediately demanded.
"The Dragonblight."
"The Dragonblight?" Mida almost shouted, "Why?"
"I'm not entirely sure, but it's likely something to do with that black box of his. You know, the one I first caught you over in ship storage?"
"That black iron one? What about it?"
More rumbling and explosions interrupted their conversation briefly, Flagg continued, "If you recall, its former owner was an infamous goblin by the name of Kryll."
Mida nodded, "Yes, of course I remember Kryll. He was that goblin spy that worked for Deathwing and the blacks, and one of the most infamous, skilled and treacherous goblins of all time. That's why I was concerned when I first saw it. I'll admit, I had nearly forgotten it was in there."
"And Maldy's highly protective of it." Flagg said, "If something in that box belonged to Kryll, the one that played no small role in Deathwing's survival and experimentation all these years, then I'd bet my butt it's something that shouldn't fall into the wrong hands."
"Like Maldy's." Bowie interjected.
"Precisely." Flagg said, "And now we're heading to the Dragonblight, the home of the…"
"Wyrmrest Accord." Mida interrupted, putting all the pieces, all the puzzles of this voyage together as the dogs of war pounded louder and louder outside the ship "Where there are representatives of the Black Dragonflight." Mida paused for a moment as the sudden enormity of Maldy's villainy came into scope, "You're not proposing he's actually in league with them somehow?"
"It's impossible to say." Flagg said, as a sudden explosion, louder than any ever before, sent guards above deck suddenly screaming and scrambling. Maldy's men posted at the door suddenly grew nervous and dropped their defenses slightly.
"Well none of that's about to matter!" Bowie shouted, "Not unless we can get back in control and get ourselves out of here!"
Mida sighed loudly. She didn't want to have to charge the armed soldiers. Many goblins would surely get hurt. Then again, with cannon fire coming so close they could hear the splashes of water outside the hatches, she realized a lot more were going to get hurt if they didn't act now. Reluctantly, Mida turned to Flagg and Bowie and whispered, "Get everyone ready. Tell everyone to grab what weapons they can. On my mark, we're going to bring the heat on these guards."
"Yes My Tallest." Flagg and Bowie said in unison.
"There's no need." Roulette, the first goblin to befriend Mida in the cargo hold, proudly said. She stepped forward with a group of loyal goblins behind her. Though they were armed with only basic maces, blunt knives and even soup ladles, Roulette stepped forward and told Mida, "We're ready when you are, My Tallest."
Mida looked around. More and more goblins began to stand, armed only with any metal or wooden objects they could find, from butter knives to wooden planks, and clad only in peasant's rags, goblins rose up around Her Tallest with determined faces, hearts and souls.
"It's going to be dangerous." Mida said, "Lots of us are probably going to get hurt."
"Mida." A friendly voice spoke. It was Bowie, standing right next to her. He reached into his robes and pulled out a small hand-made grenade in one hand, while a magic flame rose up in the other. He looked Mida, his life-long friend and colleague, and said, "I speak on behalf of every goblin in here when I say I would proudly follow you anywhere, My Tallest."
Mida smiled, "Thank you, Bowie."
Bowie smiled back as Flagg stepped forward, wielding his large red spear. He raised it into the air and shouted, "For Her Tallest!"
"For Her Tallest!" The entire cargo hold shouted in unison. Weapons raised and spirits high, they fell into ranks, marching behind Her Tallest, up the ladders and walkways to the heavily guarded exit of the cargo hold.
Back above deck, Maldy's guards looked on as the exchanges between the Alliance and Horde flew violently past the ship, only a matter of meters ahead now. Back in his cabin, Maldy was sipping wine and speaking with Chief Engineer Globberport.
"Globberport," Maldy started, "You seem like a man of loyalty, even if it is only to the highest bidder."
"Ain't that the damn truth." Globberported shouted, chugging a glass of wine.
Maldy leaned forward, "I'm about to need an engineer at my disposal; a loyal one. One I can count on to carry out my orders and manage engineering all on his own. Can you be that man?"
"Aye, aye, captain!" Globberport shouted in an overly-patriotic tone as he downed a second glass of wine in seconds.  
Maldy grinned, "Good. You see, soon, we may be losing some unnecessary weight amongst our crew soon. Shedding the unnecessary pawns, if you will. I know a buyer not far from here that would be greatly interested in getting some lower-class filth for slave labor, and he's offering cash."
"Really?" Globberport asked. He had been a member of the lower class himself as a barely passable grease monkey a greater part of his life, and he detested it. He hated himself. Then, he barely squeaked by as a poor-example of a soldier guarding Maldy's palace. Immediately, he presumed himself to be among the upper class. Now, Maldy appeared desperate for an engineer. The fact that the Trade Prince planned on "shedding unnecessary lower-class filth" and Globberport was not among it, was proof enough for the engineer that he was in fact not lower-class, and it was Maldy that had given him that feeling. His loyalty was forever sealed to Trade Prince Maldy. Needless to say, Globberport was intrigued at Maldy's plans, and continued with saying, "Do go on, sir."
"It's an old… acquaintance." Maldy said, "Family, even... if barely. We're going to meet up with him in a pit stop outside of Azshara, where we'll make the exchange. We'll ditch all the lower-class leeches on our supplies, make a pretty penny doing so, sail a ship with the most loyal of my men by my side northward to a land known as the Dragonblight, where we shall meet our destiny, as the finest of the refined members of goblin society!"
"Yeah!" Globberport shouted in excitement.
"We shall take our place in history, the aristocracy of Kezan, the only true survivors of the cataclysm! Globberport, this day I offer you a chance to be forever among our ranks, forever within the upper-class, and forever known. I will need you in the engine room, on the ready, at a moment's notice. Globberport, do I have your loyalty?"
He couldn't believe it was happening. It was his life's dream; acceptance among the upper class, and acceptance by Maldy. He almost began to cry as he leapt up from his seat, shouting "Yes sir!" He flew forward, wanting to hug the Trade Prince, but Maldy stepped out of the way, plugging his nose in disgust. Globberport fell flat on his huge gut with a thud, but quickly crawled to Maldy's foot and began kissing it.
"Thank you sir!" Globberport said, crying, "Thank you, thank you!"
Maldy cringed in disgust, "You're… welcome… now get off me."
Just then, the weak door to the captain's cabin flew open and a guard rushed in, shouting "Trade Prince!"
"What the?" Maldy asked as Globberport got up, "What's wrong with you? Don't you knock?"
"Sir! We've got an emergency!"
"What kind of…" Maldy was interrupted by loud cannon fire colliding with the side of the ship. The Trade Prince felt a chill up his spine as he stepped out of his chambers to the deck. Portside of the ship, there was a massive Horde Juggernaut warship, while starboard side there were three black Alliance vessels. Maldy froze with sudden fear as he whimpered, "Did… did they just hit us?"
"Yes!" every guard within earshot shouted.
"Well then," Maldy scoffed, with a tremble in his voice, "There must be… some sort of… mistake."
Across the sea in the distance, the leading Alliance vessel's captain looked on through a telescope at the goblin freighter.
"What in the name of Wrynn is that?" Captain Memphis asked.
"It looks like a goblin cargo ship." An ensign said.
"Aye, it's goblin alright." The Captain said back, "It's got an Undermine flag above it, but that isn't any cargo ship, have a look for yourself!"
The Captain tossed the telescope to the ensign who looked through the lens at the unidentifiable vessel sailing between them and their target. He asked, "What am I looking for, sir?"
"You ever see a cargo ship with that many cannons mounted, son?" Captain Memphis barked.
"Oh," the ensign said, troubled, "No sir, I haven't."
"Then it isn't a cargo ship!" Memphis yelled, "Based on its size, it must be some sort of new goblin warship."
"But what's it doing out here?" The ensign asked.
"Getting in our way!" The Captain yelled, "Likely a bunch of bloody mercenaries those orcish bastards hired! Why else would they be positioning themselves between us and the Horde?"
"Well, sir," the ensign went on, "I- I'm not sure, but there may be some sort of reason…"
"Enough talk!" The Captain yelled, "You know your orders! Goblins employed by the Horde are to be treated as any other Horde war criminal."
"I- I know sir," Stammered the reluctant ensign, "But how do we know they are?"
The Captain groaned, "I'm not listening to you any more. Guards! Bring forth the prisoner!" Two men, clad in black, went below deck for just a moment. The Captain went on, "And it's a good thing we capture goblins too. That last skirmish against the Horde had a bunch of the buggers deep within their territory. Light knows how much information they've given them! Monsters, every last one of them. They deserved to be slaughtered just like their larger, green-skin comrades."
The two men that had stepped below ship returned, swords drawn and pointed at a prisoner. Standing several feet below them, legs and arms chained and bound, walked out a goblin with his head hung low.
"He hasn't said much, sir." The ensign said, "We've tried interrogating him… we've tried enhanced interrogation…" The Captain chuckled, but the ensign went on, "But he's proven to be highly resilient."
"What do we know of him?" The Captain asked
"Forces captured him just north of North Watch, sir. Apparently he got stuck on the wrong side of the Barrens when it split."
The goblin was brought to the Captain's feet and forced to kneel by his escorts.
"Goblin!" The Captain shouted, "What's your name?"
He said nothing. The goblin, bruised and beaten, only bit his lip and continued to look down.
"You will answer when the captain asks you a question!" A guard shouted. He slapped the goblin fiercely in the back of the head, making the ensign cringe. Immediately upon being struck, the goblin spat at the human's feet. He growled loudly and lifted the prisoner up by his arm shackles violently. Dangling in the air now like a hog-tied pig, the goblin's head hung back, giving him an upside-down view of the Captain.
"Gazlowe, sir." The second guard stated, "His name is Gazlowe. We got that much from him, but not much more."
The Captain glared at Gazlowe's upside-down head, "Gazlowe, then, I believe it was you that continually makes the assertion that all goblins do is honest work for honest pay for the Horde, correct?"
"Of course." Gazlowe growled.
The Captain picked up his chains, dragged him to the railing and almost threw him overboard. He reached down and violently pulled the goblin's head back up and pointed it right at the Hulking Hippo. Captain Memphis then screamed in his ear, "Why, then, is there an Undermine vessel between us and our Horde target?!"
Gazlowe gasped. Why was there one indeed? "What the hell are you guys doing?" Gazlowe thought to himself, "Get outta' here!"
"Answer me worm!" Captain Memphis shouted.
"I don't know!" Gazlowe said.
"You're lying!" Memphis shouted, slapping the prisoner. Gazlowe only growled and looked away. The Captain sighed loudly and called over one of his guards, "Take the prisoner back to his cell with the rest of those Horde mongrels. He's clearly not talking."
"Yes sir!" The escorts shouted. They quickly snatched him back up by the chains and dragged him off to the bowls of the ship.
"Ensign!" The Captain shouted.
"Yes sir?"
"What is the status of that goblin vessel?"
"It appears to be in fair to good condition, sir, and at least moderately prepared for battle. It's slowing down, likely because of this sudden unfavorable wind that has blown overhead."
The Captain spun his fingers, telling the ensign to hurry up, "And its position?"
"Sir?"
Memphis groaned, "Is it between us and our target?"
The ensign gulped, and hesitantly nodded, "Yes."
Captain Memphis slowly turned to the ensign. With an evil scowl across his face, he bellowed, "Blow them out of the water."
"Yes Captain!" The ensign responded. He turned and quickly began shouting orders across the ship as the Captain took the helm.
Meanwhile, on the other end of the battlefield, Warlord Thrush of the Horde Battleship continued ordering his assault.
"Keep those cannons going!" The Warlord shouted, "See to it the gunmen don't run out of ammo!"
"Zug zug Warlord!" A grunt shouted, running down to the supply room.
"Take aim at our new target!" The Warlord shouted, "And fire at will!"
The cannons on the Juggernaut fired a volley of rounds directly at the Hulking Hippo, greatly damaging the portside wall and penetrating the cargo hold. In the ship, goblins screamed and ran for cover at the deeper levels. Now deeply concerned, Maldy's guards either ran to the massive holes made in the ship to see what was going on, or ran away entirely.
"Load the catapults!" Warlord Thrush barked, "use the fire oil!"
"Warlord!" A voice from the crow's nest called.
"Cannoneers! Prepare another round!" Thrush shouted, having not heard his title called.
"Warlord Thrush! Stop!" The voice from the crow's nest called out, "It's not an Alliance ship!"
"Open fire!" The Warlord called out. Another round of shelling blasted over the waves and crashed into the Hulking Hippo. The guards that had stayed to gawk through the open holes in the ship were immediately blown to bits, while the more sensible ones ran away with the rest. The cargo hold was now unguarded.
Mida and her crew had hid in the lower levels when the shelling began, waiting for the coast to clear. She looked up to see the obliterated guards and abandoned posts and mumbled to herself, "Well, that makes things a lot easier now, doesn't it?" With an apparent lull in the cannon fire, Mida waved everyone up and quickly lead the charge out of the hold of the ship before another round came down upon them.
"Stop!" The scout from the Horde's crow's nest shouted, climbing down from his post, "Warlord stop!"
"Prepare another round!" Warlord Thrush uncontrollably ordered, "Are we within range for those catapults yet?"
"It's not an Alliance ship!" The scout shouted, running up behind the Warlord, "Stop!"
"Stop?" Thrush shouted back, "What's the meaning of this? Who are you?"
The troll scout was doubled-over, struggling to catch his breath, "Dula'jin… Scout Dula'jin. It's not… an Alliance ship!"
"Not an Alliance ship?" Thrush barked, "Then what is it doing in my battlefield!?"
Dula'jin could barely talk, so he only lifted up his crude telescope and handed it to the Warlord. He snatched it violently and looked out at the Hulking Hippo, taking note of the Undermine colors that flew high above one of its masts.
"Goblins!" The scout shouted between breaths, "Goblins I tell you!"
"Undermine?" Thrush said confused, "Goblins? What are they doing in the middle of MY battlefield? Getting in the way of MY target? Ungrateful, wretched, disloyal band of mercenaries they are!"
"Sir!" Dula'jin shouted. The Warlord was not taking out of this what he had intended, "The goblins are just as much targets and enemies of the Alliance as we are now! Don't you remember how many goblins they took prisoner after the cataclysm?"
"Bah!" The Warlord shouted, "Then why are they here?"
"I-" The scout stammered, "I don't know, Warlord. But they're most likely not our enemies! Besides, they're blocking the Alliance from attacking us!"
"You're right!" Warlord Thrush shouted, "They are shielding us! We have to use this to our advantage!"
Dula'jin sighed, "But what about…"
"You there at the catapults!" Thrush shouted, "How far a range could you get me on those things?"
The grunt manning the long-range catapults turned to him and shouted, "Not more than a few meters past the goblin vessel's current location."
"Damn!" Thrush shouted, "Helmsman! Get us closer to that goblin ship! We're going to use them as human shields!"
"What?" Dula'jin shouted, "But doesn't that…"
"Silence troll!" Thrush barked, "We need to figure out which side those creatures are on first. Until they take one, we've no reason to aid them, but all the reasons to use them!"
Dula'jin sighed, "Yes Warlord…"
"Now back to your post!" He ordered, "Helmsman! Bring us about!"
"Zug zug Warlord Thrush!" The ship's pilot shouted. The massive Horde vessel began to turn steadily starboard, aiming its bow towards the Hulking Hippo.
Back aboard the Hippo, Mida and her loyalists were scrambling up the stairs to the main deck of the ship. As they did, cannon fire began to fall on them again, but this time from the east; where the Alliance vessels were. A thunderous boom echoed through the stairwell, sending the goblins ducking for cover as a massive hole was blown in the starboard side of the ship's hallway. Quickly they got back to their feet and fought their way to the main deck, where things were no better.
Mida ran out onto the slightly brighter deck. Dark clouds had moved in from the North and were ripe with rain, but had not yet begun to fall. More cannon shots rang through the air and collided with the main deck. Maldy's men were running everywhere, unguided and unsure what to do. Maldy certainly wasn't giving them any orders, and now they clearly needed them more than ever. Another cannon shot collided directly with the central mast of the ship, greatly damaging it and making it limp off to one side. It only still remained up because it was tangled in the horrible mess of ropes holding the masts and sails together. Another shot, and another, and another, each striking the ship in different parts of the starboard side, blasting wounds in its hull and setting the wood on fire.
Maldy and Globberport stood outside the captain's cabin, shocked and dumbfounded. Globberport grew worried, but Maldy only stood there. His lips quivered as he looked around. A Horde Juggernaut to the right, a small Alliance fleet to the left, panicked, disorderly guards all around. They were firing on him. They, the Horde and Alliance, were firing on him. Why? How? What about the treaty between Undermine and the major forces of the world? Maldy's reality, as he knew it, was crumbling around him.
Barely under his breath, Maldy whispered, "They won't fire… they won't fire. Not on a goblin vessel. Not on a goblin vessel." Another shot ran out and collided with the stairwell that lead up to his cabin. In a flash, it exploded into a cloud of burning splinters and was gone.
"Trade Prince!" A guard called, "What do we do?"
Maldy was whimpering loudly, almost as if he was about to cry. "But the treaty. And Undermine. And trade routes. Fastest route to the Dragonblight. All for business. Just in good business. This way, up there, follow the blacks, as they said, stopping in Azshara." Maldy rambled senselessly as more shells were fired from the black Alliance vessel, crashing into the boat. The Hulking Hippo had suffered so much damage the engines shut off and the lower levels of the cargo hold and engineering were taking on water. The bombardment on the starboard hull of the massive ship was so severe it actually began to tilt and move with no one at the helm.
Another shot was fired. A cannonball came crashing down immediately behind Maldy, incinerating his quarters. Globberport jumped up and screamed, running away from the burning room.
"Captain!" Globberport shouted, "We gotta' get outta' here!"
Maldy turned around and gasped, "My box!" and ran into the burning room. Guards looked back and forth at one another, unsure if they really wanted to try and rescue him or not, but in a flash he re-emerged, dragging the black chest out with him. The near loss of his treasure was a proverbial splash of water to the face for Maldy, and he suddenly realized what he had to do. A wicked grin grew on his face as he began to speak, "Guards! Get all the men that are willing to follow me, and come down to engineering. Globberport, you come too. I'll need an engineer."
As if someone pulled the plug on a drain, Maldy's men began to pour down into the engine room with him and Globberport. They zipped past Mida in such a flurry, with such chaos spread all around, she didn't even notice.
"Flagg!" Mida shouted, "Get people on those cannons!"
"Yes My Tallest!" Flagg shouted, as did every goblin after each command Mida gave as if now on instinct as she ran to the helm.
"Get the ammo and powder back out of storage! Send every mechanic we have to engineering on the double! Get the bilgepumps running down there and start draining water as fast as you can! Cannoneers, take aim at the Alliance vessel first! Ignore the two distant ones and the Horde ship, just focus-fire on the one immediately off our starboard!"
Another explosion rocked the ship near its helm, where Mida now stood. She leapt to the wheel and clung to it for dear life as more broken wood and smoke flew into the air. The ship was already tilted at a forty-five degree angle from its straight north heading, and the more cannon fire at the ship's stern tilted it more and more. Mida looked out to see the Alliance vessel rapidly approaching and turning southward, positioning its starboard guns to be within sight and range of the Hulking Hippo.
Next to the helm was copper tubing that connected all the way down to engineering, immediately below the helm several stories. It reverberated sound easily, allowing for emergency communication between the engine room and helm. Mida threw open the lid to it and shouted down, "Globberport!" There was no response. "Globberport this is the helm! I need you…" An explosion ripped by and smashed into the deck just ahead of the helm. Mida drew back to cover her face from debris, but continued shouting, "I need you to get the engine ready for another straight shot! We're almost angled just right! Globberport, damn it answer me!"
There was still no response for several seconds, until a far different, feminine voice answered back from the other end, "Globberport's gone!"
"What?" Mida shouted back.
"I said Globberport's gone! This is Higgle!"
"Where is he?"
"I don't know!"
"Well then congratulations!" Mida sarcastically shouted, "You've been promoted to Chief Engineer!"
"But My Tallest, we've taken a beating down here! The bilgepumps can barley keep up with the water leaking in! I don't even know if we've got enough energy left for a strong burn like the last time. Maldy had us use most of the engine's power up!"
"Damn it!" Mida cursed, "Well give me all you've got!"
"Aye, aye, My Tallest!" Higgle shouted back.
The Hulking Hippo slowly began to sail forward again, to the northeast. The Alliance didn't have the pleasure of a motionless target anymore, and misfires began splashing into the water. Mida swung the wheel of the Hippo around with a mighty throw, sending the ship on a parallel course eastward, lining up their starboard side with the Alliance's.
The ships were only meters apart. The goblins on the deck behind the cannons screamed viciously at the humans across the gap. The hatches in the cargo hold were knocked out, and cannons were exposed and aimed just like a real battleship. More goblins flashing yellow grins could be seen inside the ship now, screaming just as viciously and intimidating as those above deck. The humans responded in kind, their own hatches flying open and exposing battle cannons. Ballistas were being loaded with massive spearheads on the deck and taking aim at the chinks in the Hulking Hippo's already wounded armor. The humans screamed just as fiercely, but their numbers were too few compared to the thousands of screaming goblins now gunning them down.
"Warlord, look!" Scout Dula'jin shouted. Warlord Thrush rushed to the edge of the ship and looked out with his telescope.
"What are they doing?" Thrush asked.
"They're getting ready to attack!" Dula'jin said.
Thrush was almost taken aback. Never in his life did he see goblins so fervently assaulting the Alliance. He threw the telescope aside and shouted, "Men! Get the catapults ready! Cannoneers! Prepare to fire!"
"But sir!" A grunt said, "We're barely in range!"
"I don't care!" Thrush said, "Then we'll scare them real good! Start firing on my command!"
Back at the Hippo's Helm, Mida shouted down to the deck, "Flagg! Get ready to fire!"
Flagg nodded and shouted down into the cargo hold via the hole he cut with his shredder, "Bowie! Prepare to fire!"
Bowie flashed a thumbs-up to the commander and shouted out to the goblins in the hold manning the cannons, "Take aim goblins!"
The goblins of the ship all moved fluidly and in unison. All together, the goblin-engineered cannons took aim as flashes of red-orange fire could be seen lighting up behind them.
"Fire!" Captain Memphis demanded.
"Fire!" Warlord Thrush bellowed.
"Fire!" Her Tallest ordered.
Smoke and flame lit up the darkened sky. Cannonballs flew across the narrow gap as if they were being rolled across the table. The beaten Hulking Hippo took massive damage to its starboard side, but the goblins responded in kind. The devastating power of goblin cannons not only blew holes all over the Alliance's ship, but they held many other surprises in store. Some of the ammunition had been designed to burn through wood at rapid rates, quickly torching even the fire-resistant parts of the human vessel. Others exploded into flurries of knives and jagged metal upon piercing the enemy's hull, eviscerating the humans within the ship in the flash of an eye. The Horde's ship hurled flaming balls of oil-drenched cloth onto the Alliance ship and aimed with their cannons as well as they could sailing straight at it. Warlord Thrush's orders came so hastily, that the grunts had little time for precious calculations. One catapult launched burning oil directly at the Hulking Hippo's stern-most sail, setting them aflame. Each side kept firing, and firing, and firing, even if blindly. They kept firing and firing until their resources were depleting. They kept firing and firing for the sake of firing and destroying and nothing more. Orcs, Humans and Goblins all began falling into the blood-stained waters running between the three ships.
From out one of the holes in the side of the Alliance vessel poked the head of a captured Orc. She looked around at the carnage outside the ship, but the nodded back inside. Orcs and trolls that had been captured in the Alliance's last raid as POWs began pouring out of the side of the ship into the water and quickly swam back to the Horde ship as explosions rumbled overhead and corpses fell into the water, barely missing them.
Another command of "fire!" was shouted from the Alliance ship, and this time all at once. The cannons, perfectly timed, unleashed upon the side of the Hulking Hippo. The damaged wall of the ship immediately caved inward, sending goblins flying across the hold to their deaths. Once the smoke settled, it was revealed that the entire wall around the top floor of the cargo hold was gone. Just gone. Without support, the starboard edge of the deck began to sag into the cargo hold. Mida shouted orders to the crew to evacuate the cargo hold at its weak points and to fall back onto the deck. Seemingly low on ammunition and gun powder, Mida had learned from her last encounter what the Alliance was most likely planning next. Unfortunately, she was right.
Ropes and tethers all flew threw the air and dug deep into the Hippo's walls. Humans began to scramble to the top of their mast and grab hold of ropes, preparing to swing aboard.
"Intruders!" Mida shouted, swiftly drawing her blades Yours and Mine. "Arm yourselves!"
Mida began to charge down to the main deck with her goblin comrades, but she then heard an unusual rumbling from behind her; from behind the ship. It wasn't cannon fire, it was an explosion; it was some sort of engine revving. She turned around just in time to see escape pods, dozens of them, pouring out the emergency hatches that she had ordered be installed in engineering. She hadn't given the order to evacuate. Whoever was in them was in direct defiance of her orders. Who would have been so cowardly, so disloyal, so sickening… and just like that, Mida realized who it was before she even caught a glimpse.
One escape pod lingered in the air for a moment above the helm. The hatch opened up, and inside, grinning from ear to ear, was Trade Prince Maldy. He stared at Mida evilly, and waved a treacherous claw at her in farewell. The roof of his pod slammed shut, and took off roaring northward with nearly two dozen of the other escape pods filled with Maldy's rich loyalists and the entirety of his army, stripping the Hulking Hippo of its only professional military. Mida had ordered the escape pods to be installed to save them in an emergency; to save the weak, the sick and the children. The escape pods that could hold up to three, possibly even four goblins, now only sat one of Maldy's loyalists or soldiers per pod.
Mida felt a new emotion never before instilled in her by a fellow goblin. It wasn't frustration, or dislike, or even hate. Mida, a culmination of rage, sorrow, confusion and so much more, cried out to herself, "Maldy… you are truly disgusting."
"My Tallest look out!" Bowie cried from the deck, pointing. Mida was so focused on Maldy's escape she didn't see the human, blade drawn, running up to her at the helm. She turned and tried to parry in time, but not even she could be swift enough. Just as she was bringing her blades up, a shot rang out and pain writhed across the human's face. He immediately fell to the floor, bleeding. Mida looked down at the deck to see one final red armor-clad goblin standing on deck. Commander Flagg looked up to her proudly as smoke arose from the barrel of his single-shot pistol.
Bowie clambered up the stairs to his leader as quickly as he could on a sinking deck. Humans lurched at him from below, and one even swung in from above and blocked his path. He raised his hands up above his head and threw a blast of orange magic on the ground. A forceful blast wave knocked back all the humans grabbing at his robes, sending them flying into the water below. Bowie quickly fidgeted at his now crooked robes, fixing them up, and continued climbing up the stairs to Mida.
"Bowie what is it?" Mida shouted.
"It's the deck!" Bowie shouted, "It won't hold up much longer! The humans, they're adding too much weight!"
The ship groaned loudly as the deck sagged down, now almost at a forty-five degree angle from what it used to be. If the main deck caved in, then everyone in the cargo hold; the elderly, mothers, non-combatants, and children, would be entombed and crushed to death. Mida gasped and turned to Bowie, "Quickly, tell them to evacuate the cargo hold. Tell them to head to the mess hall and hide there!"
"Yes my tallest!" Bowie shouted. He quickly ran back down the stairs, hurling fire blasts at each human he got a clear shot. Mida then re-gripped her daggers and leapt down onto the deck, hacking and slashing at the humans. They poured in tens at a time, more and more. They had such numbers on deck they almost matched the goblins, of all races, one-on-one. The goblins weren't about to give up. Mida chopped down human after human, intruder after intruder. Blood splattered and coated her blades and even her face, and they just kept coming. Flagg had vanished down to the cargo hold to assist in the evacuation and grab his shredder once again. He flew it up to the main deck and began chopping down the humans like saplings, and they just kept coming.
A sudden lurch in the floor below them and the deck caved inward, sending the humans and goblins all across the main deck rolling down it like a polished slide. Cannons, barrels of gunpowder and crates of ammo toppled down on top of them, crushing, burning and exploding countless numbers of them. The gunpowder quickly mixed with the goblin's overused fire magic and a massive explosion detonated right at the core of the Hulking Hippo, deep within the cargo hold. Countless lives were lost instantly. The massive ball of flame rose up into the sky like a volcano, and all the soldiers on all four other ships saw it. The jagged wood of the ruined, caved-in Hulking Hippo burnt violently as fuel, gunpowder, oils and magic were all combined. The clouds overhead grew only darker and darker as thunder began to rumble on the distance. Fat drops of rain quickly began pouring down; extinguishing some of the smaller fires on the ship, but not even the forces of nature could keep the rampaging flames doused.
The Horde vessel had expectantly forgotten about the goblin ship, and now unloaded its arsenal against the Alliance. Nearly colliding, the Horde juggernaut stopped only meters away from it, and quickly orc and troll soldiers poured onto the human's ship. Their numbers aboard were already low because of the massive presence they held on the Hippo, but they still put up a fight. Warlord Thrush quickly entered combat by rushing aboard with two massive axes bigger than some of the humans. He swung his weapons around in a whirlwind, not only slicing humans in-two but sending them flying out to sea as the rain poured down harder and harder. Lightning flashed overhead as the Horde pressed into the human's vessel. Thrush made a heroic leap up to the helm and charged at Captain Memphis. Three other sailors slashed at the orc, but one swing of his axe and they were dealt with. Memphis pulled out a rapier and nimbly began dodging the slow, hulking warrior's strikes. A quick jab at his open ribcage, a duck under his axe, a slash at his legs, a roll under his arm, one, two, three – it was like a dance to him. Thrush roared loudly and slammed his axes into the wooden floor below him. The impact was so tremendous, he dug right through the floor, creating a massive hole into the cabin below. Memphis kept skillfully swiping his blade, leaving thin, leaking strings of blood across the Warlord's body. Thrush kept swinging and missing the Captain, but intentionally. He kept throwing his axe around, taking the hits from the Captain's blade, and kept digging more and more holes in Memphis' dance floor. One, under his axe, two, around his left, three, stabbing his side, four…
Memphis screamed as he lost his footing. His right foot fell into one of the holes Thrush had dug and he struggled to pull himself out. Even such a heavily armed warrior, though, was fast enough to catch him in his moment of weakness. With a quick swing of his axe, Memphis' head was sent rolling down the rocky ship deck, now being tossed by the waves and whipping winds. Thrush, now panting like a dog and bleeding from nearly every inch on his body, leaned in on one of his axes like a walking staff for just a moment. As he just taught Memphis, however, Thrush soon learned a moment was all it took.
A shot rang out from the stairs beside the helm. Thrush clutched his chest as the sharp pain of a bullet ripped straight through his heart. His dark, orcish blood poured out of him like a spilled jug. He was dead before he even hit the ground. Standing on the stairs was the trembling ensign, unable to even keep the barrel of his gun straight. He had just killed a Warlord of the Horde, and with a single shot. Blood was everywhere, disturbing the young soldier to his core. He could barely stand, let alone flee, and in his paralyzed fear Scout Dula'jin jumped up from behind him and ran him through with a long katana.
Back on the goblin ship, the humans were quickly being slaughtered. The goblins were all small and light enough to scurry into the tiny holes they could find to escape the pit of the cargo hold, or light enough to climb up the delicate ropes thrown down by those goblins already above. Whenever a human tried, they were too heavy and snapped the cord. No escape hole was nearly large enough for a human to crawl through. From there, it was like shooting fish in a barrel. Goblins threw down their weapons, heavy crates of supplies and shot down with their pistols and shotguns at the defenseless, hopeless, trapped human soldiers. Some goblins remained blow, fighting-hand-to-hand, but they did not dwell long. The cargo hold was now rapidly taking on water, and was not helped by the goblins firing down at the bottom-most hull of their own ship with guns and cannons, hell-bent on eradicating the invaders, despite the toll to the Hulking Hippo. The massive raindrops splashed down on them, and the few humans that survived the goblin bombardment soon found themselves trapped in a watery tomb.
The bodies of dead goblins, humans, orcs and trolls all floated northward and stained the water red for miles around. The human ship was decimated and looted by the Horde pillagers that fled back to their own mildly damaged ship. The goblins, once they finally calmed down from their animalistic, barbaric battle-craze, finally all began to realize their dire situation as the massive hole before them where the deck once was filled up with more and more water.
Up at the helm, Mida stood, soaking wet and covered in blood as she leaned up against the wheel. Bowie quickly clambered up the stairs next to her on her right, and Flagg landed his shredder, now completely out of fuel, to her left. The sky was pitch black and dropping heavy rain, with still only occasional flashes of lighting and thunder.
Breathing deeply, Mida turned to Bowie and calmly asked, "Damage report, Bowie."
Bowie looked back to Mida in disbelief. Did she actually just say that? He shook it off and actually tried to articulate their current situation, "Oh… gods… okay… Engineering is heavily flooded, almost half-full. The cargo hold is rapidly taking on water, mostly through the holes we made firing down at the humans, and we're starting to sink. The main deck is… non-existent. Our starboard side is… also non-existent. Unknown numbers are wounded, and casualties… oh, so many, many, casualties."
A crack of thunder rang overhead, and Flagg began to speak, "I don't like this storm, My Tallest. It's coming out of the north, which is where that last storm we went through, the one that nearly sank our intact ship, was blown to. It could be the same one circling around."
Her first week of rule of the goblin people was not going as well as she had dreamed it would. To make matters worse, sometimes, fate just keeps pilling it on.
"My Tallest!" A lookout shouted from the bow of the ship, "We've got a problem!"
"What?" Mida shouted back. She could see the crewman shouting something, but she heard nothing as a wind whipped past again. He kept screaming and pointing out at the horizon. Mida reached into her tool belt and pulled out her telescope. She extended it right in the direction the goblin was pointing, and suddenly, Mida felt so much smaller than she had ever felt before.
The two other Alliance vessels were sailing forward, on a straight course to the Hulking Hippo, or at least, of what remained of it. Worse than that, far off in the fog-filled distance, another black, Alliance ship appeared; and another, and another. Another dozen appeared. One dozen became two, then four, all lining the water like a distant mountain range. A flash of lighting illuminated the horizon for just a second, cutting through the darkness and rain, revealing the hiding place of what must have been the entirety of an Alliance fleet.
Mida drew back her telescope and rubbed her face in pain. The central mast of the ship came crashing down into the ocean as a powerful wind blew overhead. The stern-most sail was still partially aflame, but badly burnt in the spots that had been doused by rain. She would have given the order to abandon ship, but on what? Nearly all the escape pods had been taken by that monster, while there was still a whole ship of goblins that needed to be rescued. Scared to even ask, Mida turned to Bowie and mumbled, "How many escape pods are left?"
Bowie gulped, "Maybe a dozen."
Mida's heart sank as she had to ask the next question, "How many children made it into the mess hall before the deck collapsed?"
"Nearly all of them, making for somewhere around sixty, likely more."
Mida was silent for a moment as she stood in the rain, motionless. With a heavy sigh, she turned to Bowie, "Try to fit about five kids per escape pod, and have them pre-programmed and fueled up to seek out the nearest land. Take the gas out of the damn jetpacks and ship engine if you have to. Hopefully, Maldy didn't take us that far away from Kalimdor's shore."
"They won't last long on their own." Flagg grimly reminded her. "Not in this world. Not from what we've seen of it these past few days."
"I know that." Mida barked back, strongly holding back tears, "But it's the only chance we've got."
Flagg nodded, "Yes My Tallest. I'll go and oversee the evacuation."
Flagg left the helm, and Mida and Bowie were left alone.
Bowie gulped, "What now, My Tallest?"
Mida quietly said, "Nothing. Not even with the aid of a Horde Juggernaut, if they were willing to give it, could we take on an entire Alliance fleet."
"But, My Tallest, we must…"
"They're going to kill us all." Mida said, "Me, you, everyone aboard and destroy the remains of our ship… if there's anything left of it by time they get here. The engine is flooded, we only have one good sail, and we're already half-way underwater. Even if we could get the engine to muster one last burn, it could get us what, maybe a hundred yards? That's barely enough time to get us turned around."
Bowie's heart sank alongside Mida's as the rain poured down, drenching their clothing and washing the blood from the remains of the deck. Goblins from around the vessel all looked up to Mida; terrified, yet with pride and honor. Mida looked out at all of them, unsure of what to tell them, but for the first time in her life, she saw something in those goblins she'd never seen in the eyes of a goblin before; pride, honor, nobility, and even righteousness. The only other goblin to ever hold that look in his eye was her father, Baron Silvertongue.
"Why can't you be here now?" Mida thought to herself.
"My Tallest?" Bowie said, approaching Mida.
With a sniff, Mida asked, "What is it, Bowie?"
"My Tallest, if we've not enough energy to even turn this ship around…" Bowie paused. He took a deep breath and puffed out his chest as boldly as he could, "Then there's only one direction for us to sail, isn't there?"
Mida looked up into Bowie's eyes. They were filled with the same determination and spirit that her entire crew had. She took a deep breath and looked down into a deep puddle of water next to her. That spark, that flash of goblin spirit, rang in her own eyes, and she felt her heart swell with pride, with righteousness, and she knew what the right thing was to do, just as every goblin left on the ship did.
The escape hatches opened again as the pods flew up into the air, packed with children. They quickly scanned, and fired their rockets, sending the pods flying off to the north, almost perfectly following the trail of corpses in the water.
Mida watched them fly off into the dark unknown, and turned to Bowie, "They're going to need cover fire."
Bowie grinned proudly, "Yes My Tallest."
Mida came up on the copper pipe again and shouted down to engineering, "Higgle? Are you still there? Is anyone still there?" All she heard was splashing water echo up the pipe. No one responded yet.
"I suppose things aren't all bad right now." Bowie said, scratching his chin.
"What?" Mida asked, waiting for a response from the pipe, "What do you mean?"
"Those pods Maldy took…" Bowie said with a grin, "It probably would have been better had he given me a chance to actually fuel them up."
Mida's face froze in disbelief at first, but then actually let a little chuckle fly from her lips. Indeed, only a truly madman, nay, a mad goblin, could laugh about anything in their current situation.
Another moment of silence, then a voice echoed, "This is Higgle! We're just about to evacuate down here now that the last escape pods are fired!"
"Not yet!" Mida cried, "I need one last burn of the engine!"
"What?!" Higgle shouted, "Are you mad? There's no fuel left in the engine, not to mention it's half-way under water!"
Mida slammed the pipe with her palm. "There's gotta' be something!"
"I've given you all I've got!" Higgle shouted back, "There's not an engineer left that could get a burn out of this thing!"
Bowie raised an inquisitive finger, "Well, maybe you don't need an engineer."
"What do you suggest?" Mida asked.
"Maybe you need a pyrotechnical genius." Bowie grinned. "I've still got crates of my homemade bombs, just like mom used to make! If we could dump them all into the engine's core…"
Mida finished Bowie's thought, "We could detonate all of them at once! That might create enough force through the exhaust pipes to push us forward!"
"I'm already on it, My Tallest!" Bowie shouted, running down to engineering.
Mida grabbed a firm grip of the wheel as the storm picked up violently. A strong gust of wind came up from behind the ship, pushing violently against the last little sail that could at the bow of the ship. She grinned wickedly as they actually steadily moved, even without the engine.
"We've a favorable wind boys and girls!" Mida shouted down to the deck, "All hands, prepare for battle!"
The collective cry of "Yes My Tallest!" resounded from the ship. It was the creme de la creme of Mida's loyalists that remained aboard. It was Her Tallest's Army. The warriors, rogues and other fighters; Jobana, Napalm, Fizzex, Redcloak, Khazar, Blunderfix, Leipzig and Felix all ran to the front of the ship, weapons drawn. Mages, Warlocks and countless other magic users took positions anywhere they could find safe footing on the railings and upper decks of the ship; Thespy, Mizzal, Ulyssandra, Brumley, Xhyril, Einriddi, Gartzo, Mistoffelees, Roulette, Don, Romey, Mariana, Frizel, Fedekkes and even the badly injured Shizz and the little girl Plumley that chose not to evacuate, not to leave Her Tallest's side, when given the chance. They all were poised and ready to fight to the end. They had been saved by Mida Silvertongue, worked, sweated and fought by her side, and were now ready to die by it. Her Tallest finally had her people, and they welcomed her leadership. They were truly the Army of Her Tallest, and as the engine boomed with the explosion of a thousand bombs and grenades detonated by Bowie and Higgle, the ship thundered forward into the goblins' destiny.
Flame erupted from the ship's exhaust in a massive plume of fire. The Hulking Hippo, if for a few brief seconds, was immortalized as a blazing chariot flying over the waves toward the enemy Alliance ships, roaring and booming louder than the mightiest forces of nature that now crashed down on them. The surviving Horde aboard the juggernaut watched on in awe for just a moment.
"What are they doing?" A grunt asked.
"They're loony!" Another said.
"Pfft…" A third said, "They're goblins."
"They're not loony!" A strong voice shouted. It was Scout Dula'jin, returning from the sinking Alliance ship. "They're sailing out to meet those Alliance dogs!"
"But sir!" A grunt wined.
"Silence!" Dula'jin shouted back, "Warlord Thrush has fallen! I am acting commander now!"
"Yes sir!" The grunts shouted, saluting.
"There's no going home for us now boys, not with that many Alliance vessels on the horizon! I say we go out right alongside those loony goblins!"
"Yes sir!" The ship shouted with pride.
Dula'jin drew his katana and pointed off in the horizon, shouting, "Lok'tar Ogar! Follow those goblins!"
The humans were terrified at the sight. A massive goblin cargo ship, blazing and burning with the fire of ten-thousand volcanoes erupting out its back like a loose rocket car, flying, literally flying up and out of the waves, filled with screaming goblins hollering like madmen. If the words "deadly crazy" could take on a physical form, the Alliance vessels now saw it firing at them like a meteor. The flaming ball of green and brown that was The Hulking Hippo came crashing into the forward wall of the Alliance fleet, where it soon fulfilled its own destiny at the hands of hundreds of Alliance cannons.

***

Meanwhile, far to the north, Maldy and his cronies flew over the waves on their journey. Over a crude, goblin-engineered walkie-talkie, Maldy called to his men, "We're going to start flying west soon. This storm is getting bad and we have to make landfall. Besides, west of here should be Azshara after too long, and that's our first rendezvous." Maldy grinned happily as his fingers rhythmically tapped the top of Kryll's black box in the passenger seat next to him.
"Uh, Trade Prince Maldy?" A guard spoke back over the static of the radio.
"What?" Maldy inquired.
"I don't know if we're going to make it!"
"What?" Maldy asked back in confusion. "What do you mean, we're in fine…"
A red light started to flash in Maldy's escape pod, and a faint alarm sounded. He looked down at his control panel, and his jaw slowly began to lower to the ground. His eyes grew wider and wider as they fixated on the flashing words "low fuel."
Maldy twitched.
"We're going down sir!" A guard shouted over the radio, "What should we bzzzzapzzzsst…" The guard's voice was lost to static.
Just as the fuel gauge on his dash began to creep to zero, Maldy clinched his fists, gritted his mithril-green teeth and cried up to the heavens, "Mida!!!"
The fuel gauge fell flat, a loud alarm blared and Maldy's escape pod fell to the tumbling currents of the sea.

***

The Captain of the forward-most Alliance ship watched on as the final ruins of the Hulking Hippo were claimed by the ocean, and the Horde ship bled smoke and fire from its wounds. Small handfuls of goblins paddled around in the monstrous waves, struggling to stay above water in the terrible storm that had befallen them.
"My Tallest!" Bowie cried, clinging to a piece of wood and paddling like mad with his back feet, "My Tallest where are you!"
"Bowie!" A distant voice cried out, among the cries and screams of the other goblins, "Bowie where are you?"
"I'm over here!" Bowie cried. He paddled in the direction of Mida, and eventually reached her, "My Tallest, grab on!"
Mida reached out for the board, but it was quickly swept away in the current. Bowie was almost taken too, but he grabbed onto Mida's extended hand and the two clung to each other for dear life. The wind ripped again, dragging goblins far out to sea – all out to the north, the same place all the goblins, dead and alive, for one reason or another, were being dragged. The storm suddenly grew so violent, a massive tidal wave rose up in the south like a behemoth. Bowie and Mida caught a glimpse of it for just a second as they were at the top of their own massive wave.
"Hang on!" Mida shouted. "Don't let go!"
Bowie clawed his way up Mida's arm desperately, but he just couldn't handle it, "I'm slipping!"
"Just hang on! We can make it!"
"I can't!"
"Do it!"
"I'm trying!"
"Bowie!" Mida shouted, but it was no good. The wind, the thunder, the boom of cannons firing on the Horde ship; it was all too much. The massive wave crested even higher than the tallest point of the Alliance vessels and came crashing down on them all. Humans, goblins, orcs, trolls were all washed out to the sea and taken northward. Mida flailed her arms in the air, but Bowie's were no where to be felt. She struggled to open her eyes to look, but she was dragged down into the deep, dark waters. The force of the wave pressed up against her body with the crushing weight of a boulder, sending her helplessly sailing out to sea. The massive pressure was the last thing Mida felt before bubbles erupted from her nose and mouth and she fell unconscious.
Bilgewater, the Survivors of Kezan Part 10

I tried to make this part somewhat chaotic in its back-and-forth cuts. I hope that didn't make it too hard to read. This is the conclusion of the second section of the story. Next up, the Lost Isles!

And sorry I took it down for a little bit. Something direly urgent came to my attention that I had to revise but I didn't have the time to do so before work, so I just took it down and figured I'd re-post when I got home.
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shula6 Featured By Owner May 10, 2010
Overall i liked the story. The fight sequence was really done, the warcraft feel was really there.

But...while this really isn't anything specifically against the writing style.

While i give full recognition that individuals have individual personalities,The Goblins don't really seem like goblins. Don't get me wrong you placed their ramshackle technology neatly in the story, but the personality just isn't there.

The Selfishness, inward thinking, greed-filled, distrusting, lei-spouting,disloyal, amoral business race is not what is see without having for-knowledge of the universe. While the vibe might, MIGHT be in the description of their livelihood... the only character that fits ANY of those traits is Maldy.

In fact the only reason that is their is that industrial monopoly feeling is because of Maldy. The rest of the characters are either Saints in tuxedos or unwavering zealots.

I mean usually fantasy races tend to flip flop between virtuous angels and frothing demons. Finally, here with goblins we get a chance to explore a race were such concepts of standard morality are either ill defined or non existent, and the opportunity was not taken advantage of.
I mean, if you took the shredder out and turned everyone into gnomes how much would be out of place?

I'll be honest. Pappa silvertongue's personality makes me cringe, there is just so much wrong,he is the flip side of the goblin scale of good honest, fair , love-filled, humble generosity that tastes like pure deliciousness and saves everyone. Aw how cute and nonsensical.

The guard Captain, pompwhig, all Maldy's guards even the refugees are so Cult-like in their loyalty martyrdom seams like only the beginning. Bowie should be the one pushing goblin loyalty off the charts with his un-romantic commitment yet he is at the lowest rung. I have to tell myself that Maldy must slip some brain washing serum into the food supply to believe how irrational and illogical his cronies behaved.

Maldy-the only real goblin, is so hammy it is like something from a World war 2 propaganda Movie. The only reason he is any type of threat is because he needs to be.Lets count down.

1.shortest goblin. Physically unimposing.

2. Ultra-Whiny, combined with his shortness its hard not imagine him with a squeakily voice making him emotionally un-intimidating

3.Super cowardly. Well just give him a mean look and he'll piss his pants!

4. Unbelievably stupid and delusional. So much so, its a wonder how no goblin has been able to assassinate,black-mail,threaten, or just plain outsmart him out of power.

Really if you were writing this as a story book for little Goblins growing up in Her Tallest's Socialist Republic of the People you succeeded.

I'm sorry, i needed that off my chest. If you hate me and send me a hate-filled rebuttal i will understand.i Do support Her Tallest and i do support new writers. I mean this was an off project and done for fun so you know what forget what i said. I'm a dork.
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Deneb-Vir Featured By Owner May 15, 2010
A lot of the issues you present have a lot of simple explanations. For example, the section of the story that involves the goblins sailing went on for much, much longer than I intended. This caused a lot of complication, as it became the dominant scenario in which we got to know the goblins. In the earlier parts of the story, the industry and business nature of the goblins was much more apparent. When their home was destroyed, though, there wasn’t exactly much for them to be industrial about, or much for them to deal and trade with. This is understandable given the fact they’re lost at sea, but since so much of the story was in that segment, the goblins seem a little unbalanced, I’ll admit. But now that they’ve made landfall, some more “classic” goblins may begin to appear again.

Yes, Baron Silvertongue is quite the anomaly within the goblin world. I was trying for this. His social mutation of actually being a “moral” person was what allowed him to survive the catastrophic event of Maldy’s family trying to take over the Cartel. I wanted this to sort of be the “opening note” for these goblins because I’m trying to diversify what a goblin is. I wouldn’t want the playable race of goblins to be as predictable, and often two-dimensional, as the ones we know now. So, I aimed for Baron Silvertongue to foreshadow such differentiation with a somewhat extreme example – by completely taking what a goblin is and turning it inside-out. I will admit though, I don’t think I focused enough on his “outcast” nature early on, and what of it I did was too metaphorical and not nearly literal enough. He was supposed to be more of the old hermit that lives by himself on the outskirts of town style of character because of his alienation from the rest of his people. This is among what I’m considering for revisions.

As for the other characters, and the issue of loyalty, it’s also a similar problem of me simply not focusing on it enough. Maldy’s men are loyal to him because Maldy’s the one that signs their paychecks. That’s a very large portion of it. They’re also loyal to Flagg for similar reasons; he’s their supervisor. Plus, I’d imagine even the goblins of Undermine would have a standing military, where loyalty was at least a moderately required aspect. In that way, the idea of a goblin “military” is another anomaly within the goblin race with which we’re simply not familiar, but obviously must exist if logically considered, given Undermine’s status in the world. Plus, Flagg is loyal to Maldy as he is a stickler for standing order. Being a military man, particularly one with the eccentricity of a goblin, he is obligated through contracts to maintain loyalty to his respected Trade Prince. At the same time, though, he clearly knows what Maldy is doing is wrong (whether morally or just rationally). This is the internal struggle of Flagg’s character. Given that the military is still loyal to him, and in turn, Maldy, I don’t feel their loyalty is as much of an issue, and the scenes were it is an issue, such as when Maldy rushes back into his burning cabin to rescue his box, it shows in the guards unwilling to rescue him unless they had been directly ordered to do so.

Pompwhig is probably the most understandable of the ones you’ve listed. He’s a tenant to Maldy’s family, just as Bowie was to the Silvertongues. Given that, Pompwhig is to Maldy as Bowie is to Mida. I really don’t see any problems with his loyalty at all.

As for the actual goblin refugee’s loyalty, that’s where complications arise. A lot of the scenes with “national pride,” or propaganda as you described it, for Mida were really just shameless shout outs for those that support her in the thread, and if this work is ever taken seriously somehow, I’ve already full intentions of taking them out entirely and replacing them. At the same time though, going back to my first point, I really spent way too much time sailing. After such a catastrophe, of course the goblins were going to be changed somehow. What I was trying to go for was a struggle to maintain the order of aristocracy aboard the ship. Maldy and Mida were the only two goblins on board with significant amounts of money; therefore, there became a polarization of the “sides” of the mutiny around these two. Now yes, many goblins are portrayed as loyal to Mida out of the “goodness of their hearts,” which isn’t very goblin-y. As I tried to articulate at one point, goblins have a debt to Mida now; whether moral or financial, or both, depends on the goblin. Going back to what I said about Baron Silvertongue, I wanted these goblins to have slightly more depth to them, and so some have come to develop a moral sense of loyalty rather than a contractual one.

And as for Maldy, I’m aware he’s incompetent and unfit to be their leader. Take that up with Blizzard; his character was already greatly despised by the goblins upon arriving on the Lost Isles. People were actually trying to argue online that the goblins would like Maldy because he tried to sell them into slavery on the grounds that it was very goblin-y. I find this absurd. No sentient race would respect someone for trying to sell them into slavery; not even goblins. So, I wanted to make more reasons for the goblins to hate him, just to make it very clear. Now as for why he hasn’t been overthrown, keep in mind Maldy has only been a Trade Prince for a very short time upon inheriting it from his mother, and a great disdain for him has grown at the lower-class level back in Bilgewater Port. He kept the upper classes happy by stealing from the poor and giving to the rich, essentially, such as with his parents’ scheme that looted all the other wealthy goblins of the port and handed it over to the even more wealthy Trade Princes of neighboring towns, not to mention the royalty and government of Undermine. Basically, Maldy remained Trade Prince because he was protected by the “higher-ups” since he did what they wanted. That’s also why once they were out at sea, things began to deteriorate, and people did in fact rise up against him. It just so happens the goblins also liked Mida, and found a strong ally and leader in her, not to mention held a debt to her (again, whether moral or financial).

Most importantly, while on the ship the goblins faced a situation unlike anything they’d ever seen. While out at sea, actual money did them little good, especially given so many goblins were penniless, and social order was virtually nonexistent. In this sense, the goblins had lost everything; they’re physical home, their society, their way of life. That’s why I made the somewhat eerie scene where they were “lost in the fog.” The goblin’s destiny, for the entirety of the time on the ship, was completely unknown as everything they knew broke down and failed them. Given this, many goblins found themselves forced to turn to what was formerly unthinkable for goblins – actual ethics, loyalty and the honor of a man’s word. This transition, like so much, I will be re-focusing to make it more apparent on when I go back and revise a lot of the story (which will already have to be done, given that Maldy already has a new name). Now whether such novel ideas for goblins will stick once they finally begin to re-establish society is the real question worth asking. At the very least, you could think of the occurrences on the Hulking Hippo as a social experiment of sorts for goblins, where they, for the first time, got a peak at a life of something more than money and business, as such things were really irrelevant in their current dire situation.

For now, you were partially right in calling this story propaganda. I am trying to rally an army for Her Tallest, but a lot of what makes it so, as I said earlier, will likely be taken out should this story ever grow beyond a story just for me and my friends.
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