Black Iron's Glory - Chapter 589
Battle of Nubari Islands
The region already had plans for the soldiers in the eight homecoming Shiksan folks that didn't wish to retire as they were being downsized. With the region gaining an extra 3.8 million immigrants from Shiks, an having an extra corps of Shiksans in the region's force might have positive effects on them. They would see that the region didn't treat them as outsiders.
As such, Claude left quite a lot of spaces in the voluntary corps for the eight Shiksan corps. Drivick could pick the most elite 30 plus thousand of them to join the voluntary corps that would be armed the same as Thundercrash and Monolith. In other words, they would be using new rifles instead of the Weyblon muskets.
Now that the families of those Shiksan soldiers had moved to the region, Claude wasn't worried about them rebelling at all, so he gave them the same treatment as the soldiers of Thundercrash and Monolith to show his impartial treatment. However, they would have to be properly trained in using the new rifles to prevent unnecessary wastage of ammunition.
Naturally, that didn't mean they would immediately be deployed anytime soon. So far, only four folks had been transferred back. The other four were in Port Patkara and would return with the last batch of immigrants. The region had decided that the voluntary corps would soon be deployed in the western coast. Even if the war there ended, the corps would still be used and stationed at the port cities leased across the western coast to defend the region's interests.
On the 17th of the 8th month of Year 607, a flotilla of six ironclad warships arrived at Port Felimz. According to the deal between the region and the republic, the six warships were there as part of a training unit to bring up the republic's own navy.
The region sent their naval troops to teach the pamigar how to sail the six ironclad ships. After half a year of actual practice, the six ships would be handed over to the republic as part of their first naval patrol force. The region didn't skimp on aiding the republic at all.
Ten or so days passed just like that and the naval officers got along rather well with the pamigar troops they were training. Coincidentally, two of their students had the same birthday with one of the region's captains, so they decided to host a birthday party together.
Thanks to the presence of booster wine and many beautiful and eager pamigar maidens, the party turned into a night of debauchery. The whole lot of them only woke up during noon the next day. When one of the officers unconsciously turned to the six ironclad warships' direction, he cried, "Where's our ships? Where have they gone?!"
Six ironclad warships were vaporized just like that. All the naval officers and pamigar students were arrested and even the maidens were not spared. Initially, the pamigar republic's high officials thought that the region planned the whole spiel because they weren't willing to give the ships to the republic.
But following more investigation, a list of the region's naval officers who had sexual relations with the pamigar women the night before revealed that all those officers of the six ships were not on board. The young women provided their alibis, so they were not involved in the theft of the ships.
If the naval officers weren't the ones involved, then how did the ships disappear? The pamigar students only started their lessons little more than a few days ago and there was no way they could sail the ships without supervision themselves. That was probably part of the reason why the region's officers were so daring and went to the party without even assigning guards to the ships. They thought that nobody else would be able to sail those ships, not to mention they were docked at a port leased to the region, so safety was probably not an issue.
Just like that, six ironclad warships had vanished. The military inquisitors later managed to find an eyewitness --an old pamigar sailor-- who got up at night to prepare bait for an early morning fishing trip. He mentioned seeing the six ships move slowly across the waters without making a single sound. They probably had their engines off.
The pamigar sailor didn't give it much heed and thought they were undergoing nighttime training. The moon was rather bright back then and he saw many figures moving about the six ships. As a result, he didn't suspect anything was going on. The notion that the ships were leaving the port didn't even occur to him.
The investigators were more troubled the deeper they dug. There was no way the ships would disappear out of nowhere like that. The only ones who could sail the ships were the region's naval officers, not the pamigar. Yet, the naval officers didn't do it, so who did? The Aueran royal navy probably could sail them, but would they actually dare to come all the way to Nubissia to do something like that?
The missing ironclad ships thus became one of the ten biggest mysteries yet to be cracked. later during the 3rd month, Blacksail encountered the Fochsian navy once more at Nubari Islands and refused their demands to anchor down and receive an inspection. A battle soon broke out between the two forces.
All of a sudden, the sail ships of Blacksail's fleet moved aside to reveal twelve ironclad warships in their midst sailing straight towards the Fochsian navy's sail ships. They rammed at them as they opened fire. The Fochsian fleet was glad to have finally found the crooks behind the attack on Wades Mountains, but despaired at the sight of those twelve ironclad warships.
The battle there caused the Fochsian fleet to lose nearly half of all their sail ships. Blacksail also suffered quite a lot of damage, with their twelve ironclad warships rather heavily damaged. They also lost nearly twenty of their forty plus sail ships.
However, the Fochsian fleet of 108 sail ships had no choice but to retreat after losing half that number, giving that victory to Blacksail. Eriksson, their leader, had been crowned as the king of pirates by the other pirate bands. He even self-proclaimed himself to be the Duke of Nubari.
Duke Nubari was a title of renown among the pirate haven of Nubari Islands used only by the leader of the greatest pirate force. It was even said that the duke's triangular flag was a regalia that could be used to compel other pirates to do his bidding. Though, the duke was more or less a folklore in Nubari Islands. No pirate would really follow the whims of another pirate band just like that.
Eriksson himself didn't let it get to his head. While he did successfully defeat a proper Fochsian fleet, he had also revealed Blacksail to be the culprit behind the attack on Port Wades and the theft of the six ironclad warships. Remaining in Nubari Islands was akin to waiting for his enemy to come settle the bill with him.
So, Blacksail left the islands on a night when the moon didn't shine, unbeknownst to the other pirate bands there. Only after Fochs sent another strong fleet to Nubari Islands did they realise that Blacksail had vanished.
Fochs sent an ambassador to Lanu to meet with Claude and Birkin to report their lost battle against the pirates. That was how the region found out about the truth behind their vanishing ironclad warships. They also managed to confirm that Blacksail now had the technology to modify and maintain their own ironclad warships.
It was all Fochs' fault for leaving their port open to attack, causing all the ironclad warship designs, the six ship shells and more than ten experts and rune magi to fall into pirate hands. The fact that they were able to steal the six ironclad warships from the region without making a sound was proof that they were on the same skill level as the region when it came to operating those ships.
The Battle of Nubari Islands once more showed the world that ironclad warships were the future of naval warfare. Even a Fochsian fleet of 108 sail ships weren't able to rival a mere fleet of 40 ships plus twelve ironclad warships of Blacksail.
Nobody expected that the Fochsian fleet would be the first to retreat after losing half their number. At least, retreating allowed them to retain half their naval might. Even if they continued to fight to deal Blacksail an even more debilitating blow, they would've probably lost nearly all their sail ships.
The Blacksail only lost 18 sail ships while their twelve ironclad warships could still fight despite heavy damage. Other things aside, those ships alone managed to sink more than 40 Fochsian ships. The Fochsian navy definitely had no way to handle the ironclad warships, hence their forced retreat.
Currently, Blacksail was nowhere to be found. However, the day of their return would see them reign supreme over the other pirate bands using their ironclad warships. Fochs hoped that the region could send their own Ironclad fleet out to deal with Blacksail, only to be refused.
Claude apologetically told the ambassador that if they met Blacksail at sea, Ironclad wouldn't mind taking them out and wouldn't let a single one of those ironclad warships escape. However, sending Ironclad out to look for Blacksail was out of the question. The region couldn't be bothered with playing hide-and-seek with pirates.
Ironclad's main task was to defend the waters between the autonomous region and the Aueran coast, including Northbay on the Great Plains of Canas as well as the two ports the region leased. While Ironclad did have patrol flotillas, they were tasked with defence, not attack.
While Ironclad was powerful, maintaining them cost a huge amount. Currently, the region had a fleet of sixty ironclad warships, which was the maximum the region could maintain. They couldn't afford to keep more in working order. Even knowing that Blacksail was the culprit behind the theft of their six ships, the region wouldn't bother wasting time and effort to look for trouble with them.
The deployment map of the region's 60 ships clearly showed that the waters of the region required two flotillas of six ironclad warships each to patrol and secure. Northbay also required two flotillas working in shifts to defend. The two leased ports, on the other hand, required one six-ship flotilla each.
All in all, 36 of the region's ships were occupied with security duties. The remaining 24 served as the escort of the 300-ship transport fleet of the region to ensure safe trading between the two continents.
The Fochsian ambassador agreed that the region couldn't afford to send more ships to fish out Blacksail. So, he proposed that the region help Fochs construct a fleet of ironclad warships. Claude didn't mind taking their order and offered each ship for the price of 300 thousand crowns.
The ambassador was shocked by the astronomically high price. Claude explained that he was offering to sell second-generation ironclad warships instead of the first. The first only cost half the price to build but were far inferior. They were considered obsolete and the region's shipyards no longer took orders for their construction.
The ambassador returned doubtfully with the specifications of the second-generation patrollers and destroyers. He wasn't able to make a decision on that magnitude himself and had to get in touch with the higher ups in the kingdom. It seemed that it would take some time to know whether they would accept buying the ships from the region.
The sale of the second-generation warships was part of the region's plan to revitalise Vebator's economy. The region had three deep-water ports. Port Cobius in Tyrrsim was the main transportation hub between the region and the kingdom and was far too busy. Port Patres in Robisto was also quite busy with the naval base and shipyards located there. Only Port Vebator seemed to develop rather slowly.
That was in part due to the railroad expansion of the region. The railroad company was researching how to make a bridge across Dorinibla River to connect the railroads on both banks so that passengers wouldn't have to disembark and cross the river to the other station. They were also trying to set up railroads across Loki Mountains to extract more mineable resources from that state. The huge developmental focus on railroads caused the popularity of ferry transportation to fall in favour of trains, causing Port Vebator to cool down.
The region's council hoped that it could be developed into a heavy industrial area so that the states near it could also have their economies stimulated. It also helped that Loki Mountains was close to Vebator, which made it convenient for resource transportation. When they considered how to stimulate that area's economy, they set their sights on the first and second-generation ironclad warships. Some council members also built a few shipyards in Port Vebator in preparation for the production of the old ironclad warships for sale.
Claude wasn't against the council members selling the older warships, but they had to have customers first. If possible, he would like to fund the construction of the fourth-generation ironclad warships with those sales. The other officers in the military administration couldn't bring themselves to refuse such a profitable venture either. The only issue was how they would find a rich fool willing to part with that kind of money.
Currently, the twelve ironclad warships of Blacksail were docked in a nondescript shipyard at Port Vebator for maintenance. Borkal was the one who set up that pipeline with Eriksson. Apart from that, the shipyards there also got a huge work contract from Eriksson to cover 16 three-masted speedy sail warships with a thick coat of copper armour and fitting them with first-generation steam engines.