The American soldiers and some of the British sailors, or Otherworlders as the locals called them, had done much in the last week to clean up the rubble of Zakrostas. The army cleared the streets of debris and rebuilding had begun. They also removed the huge numbers of corpses by either burning or burying them.
The citizens of Zakrostas were at first hesitant as to what to make of these strange people from the sea. Mina did much to help win them over. She quoted the old prophecy of men in iron boats and told them that one of the ship's names was the Olympus. After that, the people of Zakrostas welcomed their liberators as heroes, some even as gods.
With the lack of housing, due to the utter destruction of the city, tents were set up as temporary shelters for the citizens to live in. As more refugees returned to their city, housing was becoming a crisis. There were few buildings left undamaged from the recent battle.
The language barrier was a big obstacle at first. However, between Lt. Greer and Mina many of the Otherworlders and the people of Zakrostas learned the other's language well enough to get basic ideas across. The language schools that were established proved very popular.
General Crist wasted no time in repairing the breach in the wall and laying out the best defensive measures possible. Although, they had plenty of rifles they did not have enough ammunition to press an offensive. It would be some time before they would be able to manufacture their own bullets not to mention grenades and shells for the tanks, the artillery, and the ships.
Crist also strictly rationed the activities of all vehicles to conserve as much fuel as possible. The only oil they had was in the tanker and they did not have any refining facilities. Some of the engineers believed that they could convert some of the vehicles to burn alcohol.
The men were proving to be very ingenious. They already had a blacksmith shop with a Bessemer converter to make pig iron into steel. The introduction of the modern saddle, bridle, and stirrup proved extremely popular with the Atlanteans. Another group had already begun construction of a watermill on the Skalandos River south of the city. The mill would prove extremely valuable in powering the first factories planned for the city.
General Crist had no problem assuming control over the city. It appeared that the city's leaders were the first to evacuate and headed for the capital city of Atlantis. The remaining military forces of Zakrostas were eager to learn from the Otherworlders. The U.S. forces taught them how to fire the rifles and modern military tactics.
"We've been knocking over every latrine looking for saltpeter," one of the soldiers in charge of making gunpowder explained to the general. "Until we can get better facilities up and running we will be only able to make black powder. This I believe will be in conjunction with the introduction of the muskets planned to be manufactured."
Crist nodded his head. The muskets would be the easiest weapon manufactured at this time. Plus, the more weapons made and put into the hands of the local military the better off they were. He had already concluded that only the Otherworlders would use the M1s unless there was an invasion.
The removal of the latrines was also proving to be expedient in another matter. The medical staff on the Respite determined that the sanitation conditions of Zakrostas were deplorable. The construction of a modern sewage system was already in progress with the reconstruction of the city. With it was planned running water in every household.
Corporal Manders kept watch on the south wall. The sun was high in the sky and its hot rays beat down on him relentlessly. The smell of human and animal waste permeated the air. The corporal mused that Homer never talked about the omni-present smell of sewage. He would rather be anywhere but on sentry duty. However, it was his turn and so he stood on the wall looking to the south.
At first, he thought it was just a cloud, but then the dust cloud grew larger as time moved on. Corporal Manders called for the officer on duty to confirm what he was looking at. Captain Miller took out his field glasses and focused on the gathering dust cloud.
Down the road marched about five hundred men wearing bronze armor and armed with the long spear. One man rode a horse in front of the small army. Behind him marched a standard-bearer with the symbol of a double-headed axe on the standard.
The captain quickly called his superior who then passed it on to General Crist. The general wasted no time in mounting the wall to observe the procession himself. By now, the army was within half an hours march to the city's southern gate.
The general quickly assembled some men to prepare to meet the delegation outside the gate. For a show of force, he would ride in one jeep, Greer and Mina would ride in another and two M4 Sherman tanks would drive along with them. The hastily assembled reception party drove out of the gate fifteen minutes after Crist noticed the delegation approaching the city.
As the quartet of vehicles approached, the advancing army stopped. The man riding the horse had a hard time retaining control over the terror-stricken animal. Even some of the soldiers hedged back waiting for the first chance to run.
Sergeant Maxwell the general's driver halted the jeep several yards in front of the Atlantean army. The tanks pulled up next to the jeep and halted as well. General Crist and the two guards riding along with him and the driver left the vehicle. The guards had their Garands ready in case they needed a show of force. Although the tanks would be much better at it than two men with .30 rifles.
Lt. Greer hopped down from his jeep which was parked behind the general's; as usual, Mina escorted him. They walked a few paces behind Crist and the guards. When the five people were a few paces away from the man on the horse they stopped. The well-muscled rider wore a kilt and a bronze breastplate, under his highly polished helmet with a long black horsehair plume the dark tan face of a man in his thirties looked down on them. His hair and short-cropped beard were black and his piercing eyes were brown.
The man on the horse said something to the Americans, and Greer quickly translated, "Greetings, God killers! I am King Podaistas and I welcome you to my kingdom."
General Crist spoke to the king through Greer and Mina, "Greetings king, I am General Crist and we come in peace and friendship."
"I hear that you and your metal monsters have defeated the army sent by the gods to punish us. I also hear that you have slain the mighty king of the seas, King Poseidon. My people have been spared and all owe you their lives," King Podaistas said in a mighty voice.
Crist smiled and said, "Your Greatness, it is our sworn duty to protect the innocent from oppressors. On our world, we were embarking on such a mission. We ended up in your kingdom by mistake. Yet our mission is still the same."
The king high on his wide-eyed mount looked down on the general and his men. Then in a loud voice for all to hear the king stated, "In payment for your deeds I grant you the city of Zakrostas and all the lands north of the Skalandos River and east of the city to the land of the Asgards of the kingdom of Ragnarok east of the Dragonspine Mountains."