Chapter 317: Your Turn!
Zeus-1 was, itself, a weapon of mass destruction. After the terrible collision, by virtue of the ship’s powerful shields, it revealed itself to be completely undamaged. Of course, the impact was still felt – the NEU students were all dizzy and confused after the strike.
Hack! Cough! The Accountant heaved and sputtered, trying to shake off the uncomfortable feeling. He coughed for several minutes.
His discipline was unique. It had very little effect on the physical body, so he was struggling to keep himself in equilibrium following their crash landing.
Mika and Xiuxiu, meanwhile, had already disengaged their harnesses and were milling about the bridge. Lan Jue was next, and as he rose to his feet he indicated with his right hand. In response, a bolt of lightning shot out, fractures in to countless smaller projectiles, and landed upon each of his students. The purpose was to dull their nerves so that the impact didn’t hurt so badly. It would also help them recover faster.
“The rest is up to you.”
The Crimson Star was pretty hostile to life, as might be expected, though it wasn’t quite so bad as An Lun. You could survive in this atmosphere for a short time, at least. Gusts of strange, toxic-smelling air filled he ship when its doors were opened. By then several of the group leaders were already standing and organizing their people.
The interior of the patrol boat was too small for them to get set with their mechas right away. Originally it wasn’t constructed to handle even the amount of people it ferried now. They’d have to choke down the caustic air for a few moments before exiting the plane, and getting in their new suits.
Lan Jue was the first to disembark, with Mika and Xiuxiu at his heels. They didn’t need a meacha suit just yet – their Disciplines would sustain them. Eventually, all the students followed. The Accountant remained behind the ship’s controls, shutting the door once everyone had left.
The An Lun mechas were relinquished from their interspacial confinement through their wristbands, so it took very little time for the students to extricate and board them. They arranged themselves by team, and awaited instructions.
Lan Jue didn’t keep them waiting. “Keep a line of communication open with the ship. It will provide you with a map, and markers for all objectives. Remember that this is a live fire battlefield. You aren’t using training mechas. How you proceed out there could mean everything. If you fail, the price will be your life. Now is the time to put away all your fear, all those negative emotions. Focus on the enemy. Focus on the person we’re here to save. Move out!”
Five small groups of students launched toward the skies at his command. Under their squad leaders’ commands, the teams raced toward their predetermined targets.
Mika and Xiuxiu stood at Lan Jue’s shoulders. Xiuxiu’s timid voice chimed in. “Boss… are we really leaving them to their own devices?”
Lan Jue chuckled. “So long as the pirates don’t mount any sort of effective defense. Remember, they’re the school’s elite piloting An Lun Warsuits.” As he spoke, he fitted his flight suit helmet on his head. He spoke in to the mic. “Accountant, give them the map.”
The Accountant had, by now, entirely recovered. He couldn’t help but share his thoughts. “Jewelry Master, you are unequivocally insane. What if your shield wasn’t strong enough, ey? What then?”
“Impossible,” Lan Jue responded indifferently. “Stop with the nonsense and get to work.”
The former mercenary took his own advice, for even before he’d finished talking his right hand was already lifting. He could feel the surging energy of the phylactery stone in his palm.
Lately, all of his more powerful manifestations – whether the training on An Lun or their dramatic entrance here – were touched by the power of the phylactery. With power enough to run a mother ship in his palm, certainly some would be expelled unconsciously when in combat. During the course of his fights some would leak out and fuse with his own abilities.
Tan Lingyun, commanding Alpha squad, was racing toward her own objective – the main controls for the planet’s defense system. Now that they were passed the defensive perimeter, it would be much easier to disrupt.
In no time at all, the Accountant had tapped in to the planet’s communication systems, using it to deliver information to the students. The control systems were located deep in the enemy base. Its layout, even personnel locations, was revealed on the Accountant’s map.
Tan Lingyun looked over the information from within her own Warsuit. It wasn’t as well designed or as powerful as her Sovereign-ranked suit, but she wanted to feel the spirit of the blood iron soldiers as she performed this righteous mission.
As ever, her weapons were dual swords. They glinted as she raced forward to their objective. Her radar incessantly swept the area before her for surprises. She kept one eye on the stream of information the Accountant was feeding them.
This was a true fight! Lan Jue’s address within Zeus-1 had inspired her. Her failure during the An Lun trainings was serious, and now the chance arose for her to redeem herself. What happened was irreversible – there was only the path forward.
Clearly, she was advancing much more cautiously than the last time.
However, as time went on Tan Lingyun discoveredn that her caution was perhaps unwarranted. The information they were receiving from Zeus-1 was supremely accurate. All she had to do was following the route laid out, and that was it.
Hell, this real fight was looking much easier than their training!
Similar revelations were shared by the other group leaders. The Accountants information was exhaustive, comprehensive and completely accurate. It was like he had a dozen eyes in the middle of the camp, feeding him info.
Tan Lingyun and her team arrived at their target in ten minutes. According to their intel, there were thirty mechas stationed here. Because of their rather flashy entrance, the suits were already armed to the teeth and prepared to defend the system.
It was the pride and joy of the Crimson Flag. There were here to obliterate it.
Lingyun raised a hand signal, and came to a stop just outside the enemy’s detection radius. The enemy had long ago engaged their own interference devices, which served to hide them well. Pirates, of course, were well versed in actual combat, and knew what had to be done.
Luckily, the pirate interference systems would only effect mechas, and not the whole of Crimson Star’s electrical systems. What’s more, the cameras they relied on outside of the base belonged to the Accountant now! That was how they got such accurate information concerning enemy routes.
Tan Lingyun gave out tasks to her charges, using the information in her mecha to direct them. The first strike group included her, and the eleven members spread out. They turned on their own radar as they pressed forward.
Tan Lingyun stalked like a cheetah. Silent as the grave, she crept up behind an enemy mecha and readied her blades to pierce it through the cockpit.
Interstellar pirates lived a life of blood and corpses. They made them, or became them. And so, even though Tan Lingyun approached from his blind side, the pirate’s sixth sense kicked in. He felt the impending danger, and strafed sideways.
Clang! Lingyun’s swords pierced the enemy mecha’s metal shell. She’d missed the cockpit, but it was good enough she felt. She poured her supernatural energies in to the blades, and right away they glowed with a vibrant green. She wrenched her blades sideways to the cockpit, and the blades moved smoothly through like a hot knife through butter.
A scream arose from somewhere inside the suit. Tan Lingyun didn’t stay to gloat – in a blink, she was stalking her next prey.
The attacks on other targets were also underway. The students’ maneuvers weren’t exactly refined, but they had just completed an exhaustive two month training course. Though they weren’t on their A-game, they were still talented Adepts with extensive mecha training. They had the advantage.
The entire operation was unfolding before them.
Similar scenes were playing out for every squad. They swept through the enemy forces without any showy moves or fancy tactics. This was war, and wars were won with strength and discipline.
The students’ foundations were solid. What they lacked, was actual battlefield experience. This was their first time encountering a true enemy who wished to see them dead. Clearly they weren’t used to it, yet. Still, they possessed a unique supremacy in their Disciplines.
Obviously, Talent alone wasn’t going to win the day. But it could save their lives, and give them a chance to correct their mistakes. Luckily the opening charge had gone smoother than they’d anticipated. Now, however, with the fight well and truly under way, things were becoming more challenging.
Now was when their individual strength would be revealed.
Alpha squad was under Tan Lingyun’s command. Wang Hongyuan was responsible for Bravo, and Charlie followed Tang Xiao. Geng Yang and Jin Tao led Delta and Echo respectively.
Jin Tao’s squad was composed of melee specialists. Their objective was the underground base of the Crimson Flag. They encountered opposition immediately.
Jin Tao led the charge. A faint golden aura surrounded his Warsuit as it plowed ahead. In his wake a strange image followed, like a spectral lion that moved faster than the wind. He leapt like a beast on a nearby enemy and then, with the golden aura around him flaring, he tore the machine’s arms off. He repeatedly rammed his suit’s head in to the mangled enemy’s cockpit until the screaming stopped.
Fierce, vicious, and wild. He was an angel of death, who’s like a knife cut a bloody swathe wherever he went.
The Crimson Flag was not a weak clan, but even if they were twice as powerful they couldn’t match up to the Iron Army! They were decent fighters, withextensive combat experience. But they didn’t cooperate, so they were a mess disparate parts falling to a superior force. Against the soldiers of An Lun, they’d have lost. But these were pirates, and their deaths were all but assured.
Lan jue, Mika and Xiuxiu did not engage. This was truly in the hands of the students, now.