Chapter 316: Valiant Clash
Just then, a series of energy beams glowed stark against the black sky. They swept over a patrol boat, and that was when the little blue boat appeared on Feng Lin’s screen.
He shows himself! Feng Lin’s eyes narrowed as he carefully regarded the image on the screen. Something he saw, however, turned his face a ghastly pale.
The golden lightning bolt painted on the side.
Boom–! The assailed pirate boat exploded in a shadow of flames and debris. A fiery ball burned ferociously where it had been.
Meanwhile the sapphire ship weaved and dodged. The remaining vessels couldn’t land a strike.
“Enough! Retreat!” Feng Lin shouted.
His lieutenant looked at him in confusion.
“Boss – retreat? We can take this guy! It’s got some crazy firepower, but there’s only one of them.”
Slap! Feng Lin turned around and with such speed and force that the slip he gave his attendant sent him spinning.
“Moron. Don’t you know who that is? That boat belongs to Zeus. Dial the planetary defenses up to eleven. Whatever you do, do not let Zeus get close to our base. Send a distress signal to our allies in the North. Now!”
The orders were roared at his subordinate. But the last few sentences were filled with something else – a clear and present fear of the man who was coming for them.
Zeus was an infamous character in the Shattered Starfields, a name everyone recognized. His solo murder trip around the Starfields had ended with no less than thirty pirate clans wiped from existence.
When it came to things such as this, Feng Lin did not overestimate his abilities. There was only one attacker, but Feng Lin knew himself, and the men he commanded. Clans much stronger than theirs had fallen before the wrath of the mercenary king. What chance did they have? The only advantage they had right now was the planetary defense system.
A deep regret had settled in Feng Lin’s heart. How could he forget this monstrous killer! He should never have agreed to attack that Eastern cargo ship, like the North had asked – or at least not that obvious. All it had served to do was announce their culpability.
But hadn’t Zeus been gone for several years? Why now? Why here? Damnit! What shit luck!
The skin tags and carcinomas of his face became a crimson red as his anger rose. It made him look particularly unpleasant.
One of the eight ships sent to intercept them was destroyed. After the Accountant’s impressive display, the remaining seven had turned tail and fled.
“The hell is this? Too scared? I thought they were pirates!” The Accountant watched slack-jawed as his targets made for cover. He could hardly believe what he was seeing.
“Prepare for light speed,” Lan Jue calmly instructed.
“Light speed.” Mika and Xiuxiu responded with one voice.
Lan Jue then turned his attention back to the students. “When we breach and make landfall, the fight is yours. I will not be participating. You all remember your task?”
“Yes, sir!” The students’ response was quick, but their hearts were struggling against confusion, fear, and excitement. Their courage and training kept them stable.
Lan Jue’s deep voice continued. “Alpha squad will be responsible for destroying their planetary defenses. Bravo will proceed with the extraction mission. The remaining forces will focus on exterminating these pests. There will be no survivors.”
This time the answer came from Tan Lingyun, Wang Hongyuan, Geng Yang, Jin Tao and Tang Xiao.
The bloodlust in Tan Lingyun’s eyes was obvious. She’d never participated in an actual battle, but the desire to enact justice ran deep to her bones. After seeing the cruelty to her compatriots on that video, a fire was ignited within her for vengeance.
Wang Hongyuan was much calmer than his co-worker. To him, this sort of ‘cleanse’ was not a problem. After all, there was a reason he chose a life on Skyfire, working in education.
Tang Xiao, as cunning as he was, had had his confidence boosted considerably after the An Lun training. His determination to succeed and grow stronger burned fiercely.
Geng Yang, in comparison, was more fearful of what was to come. But, he was a star pupil, the pride of the NEU. Before Tang Xiao’s sudden inexplicable leap in power, Geng Yang was the one to watch. There was no time to slow, no time for hesitation. So he swallowed his fear – he couldn’t play second fiddle to Tang Xiao!
Jin Tao’s eyes were a dangerous red, and his heart already roared in his ears. He yearned for battle – to visit ruin upon those bastards who hurt his family!
“Main drive systems prepped.”
“Energy levels at maximum capacity. Main thrusters are open!”
Mika and Xiuxiu delivered their reports one after the other.
“Holy shit! What do you think you’re doing?!” The Accountant looked at Lan Jue like he was a mad man. Was he planning to use their ship to ram through the defenses? Granted it was a watered-down version of the system, but it still had enough firepower to rival a battleship. If they chose a straight rush, the defensive systems would undoubtedly tear them apart. What’s more, the system was designed to be condensed and intensive. Getting passed one line of defense didn’t mean you were out of the woods. They were likely to encounter resistance every step of the way. A blitzkrieg was not something the pirates feared.
Of course, Lan Jue wasn’t swayed in the slightest by the Accountant’s fears.
Lan Jue closed his eyes, and from overhead a half-helmet descended and settled on his crown. The armrests also reacted, simultaneously opening and extending two metal orbs beneath his palms.
The Accountant snapped back around and busily banged the keyboard before him. However, he was surprised to discover that his screen had gone dark – he could not control the ship from his station. The whole of the ship’s interior went dark. From the window, he could see that a pale blue light had sprung up around the ship like a bubble – their shields.
He’s really going to try and ram through? This guy’s crazy!
The Accountant knew he couldn’t stop it. He couldn’t do anything.
Suddenly the passengers of Zeus-1 were violently thrust against the backs of their chairs as a tremendous accelerating force arose. The students felt it too, and for those brave enough to turn their heads they could see the universe warping uncomfortable from the windows. Zeus-1 charged screaming toward the Crimson Star like a vengeful bolt of lightning from the gods.
The planet’s defenses were already operating at full capacity, as per Feng Lin’s command. A wall of laser blasts pierced through the planet’s atmosphere to meet them.
Part of the system’s strength was its lack of a ‘blind side.’ Of course, this was supplemented by frightening powerful weaponry. The trade-off was a stupendously expensive price tag, and the power gems to run it.
As a result, Zeus-1 could not evade or out maneuver the system to reach their objective. The only avenue open to them was a head-long rush.
Zeus-1’s shields flashed as the strikes collided. The whole ship shook under the assault. The students looked on in shock; only a few had complete confidence in Lan Jue, the rest had gone pale.
This was space they were floating in. Once the shields were gone, there was only a thin sheet of metal between them and asphyxiation. No one would survive if the hull was breached.
Everyone’s mind was on the same fact. The question was, would the shields hold?
The ear-piercing squeal of the ship’s alarms filled their ears. They shook and pitched, but in that moment a vibrant blue light erupted around Lan Jue. Bolts of errant electricity revolved around him. His hands were living lightning, opaque and super-charged as they sat on the metal orbs. The brightest point was around their Drillmaster’s helmeted head.
The Accountant was more than familiar with all manner of technological devices. Now that the process was revealed, he understood what Lan Jue was going for. Specifically, he was using his Discipline to reinforce their shields. But was this crazy guy’s individual power enough to face down an entire planet’s defensive systems?
The Accountant was scared, furious, but as he looked once more out of the window he spied their shields – studier than ever. Shimmering bolts of electricity surrounded them like a protective net and fed their defenses. Although the anti-aircraft batteries were strong, they weren’t enough to pierce Lan Jue’s power. They were deflected harmlessly in to space, like they were little more than an afterthought.
Zeus-1 was picking up speed.
Lan Jue’s patrol ship was fitted with excellent drive systems that could ramp it up to light speed in no time. It had been fast enough to circumvent the Bastion and battleship attacks during their earlier foray in to the Starfields.
Despite the fully-powered systems desperately trying to dissuade it, Zeus-1 would not be denied. It drilled through the planet’s thin atmosphere under heavy assault. The ground came in to clear view.
“Brace for impact!” Xiuxiu’s sweet voice rang loud in the cockpit.
The students felt their harnesses tighten. The shields outside their window flared with energy. They were charging at light speed – slowing down would be a problem. Unless you hit something. Like a planet.
It was like the entire planet shook. A shockwave of excess energy blasted out in all directions. Four of the seven returning ships were instantly disintegrated by the force. The remaining three fled wildly, colliding with one another in their furious escape. The damage was extensive – they were no longer threats.
Feng Lin sat in his captain’s chair, staring wide-eyed and open-mouthed at what he’d just seen. This was why Zeus was so terrifying – this was the mad Mercenary King. Not even a planet could stop him.
Zeus-1 crashed in to the surface like a nuclear bomb. Their point of collision left a crater twenty kilometers wide. Where there had been an airstrip, there was now only rubble.