Chapter 653: Fierce Battle
The Evernight fleet blotted out the skies as they swarmed over at speeds that far exceeded expectations. Qianye had just entered the fortress along with the other reinforcement troops when the dark race’s high-speed assault airships arrived nearby.
Qianye leapt onto the fortress wall, produced Thunderbolt, and took aim at a vessel. It was just that the sniper rifle’s range was limited and its firepower would diminish at long distances. Hence, Qianye could only wait for the enemy airship to approach.
It was at this time that the kinetic tower inside the fortress let out a loud whistle. The shrill cry represented a forceful release of steam, and it was even trembling as it operated in an overloaded state. The rapid-fire cannons and giant ballistae within the turrets roared loudly as a dozen or so projectiles interweaved in the sky, firmly protecting the airspace above the fortress.
The dark race assault airship was struck repeatedly by the fiery whips, causing balls of flame to burst out upon its body. Some of the airship’s parts would come loose amidst the rumbling explosions and fly out in all directions.
Very soon, two assault airships began rolling about under the barrage of fire and fell burning to the ground. There, they crashed into the hills with violent explosions. More assault vessels were roaming about the fortress in search of an attack opportunity. However, the anti-air defenses were exceptionally fierce. The rapid-fire guns spat out an endless stream of metal and flames which danced violently in the air. Meanwhile, the four giant ballistae were like cold-blooded killers. They would fire a single bolt from time to time and strike down the vessels beyond the cannons’ range.
These giant ballistae possessed terrifying firepower and had homing capabilities. Basically, every bolt would destroy an assault airship.
Seeing the crates of bolts stacked beside the ballistae, Song Zining couldn’t help but praise, “The Zhao clan is really going all out this time! These homing bolts cost a small fortune. Even our Ningyuan Heavy Industries can’t produce them.”
He hadn’t even finished speaking when Qianye suddenly reached out and pressed him to the ground. He also slapped the ground at the same time, sending out shockwaves in all directions and causing the soldiers in a ten-meter radius to fall down.
At this time, a peculiar shrill whistle rang out in the sky, and a dozen or so high-caliber autocannon rounds grazed past their heads. These shots carved out large craters and kicked up clouds of stone dust.
Song Zining looked up to find an assault airship fly past above them. It had actually broken through the defensive fire and arrived in the air above the fortress. The several autocannons below the vessel fired with all their might, raining bullets onto the soldiers inside the fortress.
If not for Qianye’s quick reaction, the string of shots just now would’ve landed on Song Zining’s body. The seventh young master didn’t put these high-caliber autocannon rounds in his eyes, but it would be quite the painful experience. He might even suffer some light injuries if he was unfortunate.
To ordinary soldiers, however, these autocannon rounds were rather terrifying. Qianye had toppled most of the soldiers nearby and saved them from the strafe, but those standing further away weren’t so lucky. A rank-one soldier was immediately torn in half with blood and gore flying everywhere.
Qianye had already lifted the Thunderbolt and locked onto one of the autocannons sticking out of the vessel. However, he later put down the rifle without firing.
As expected, a giant ballista on one of the turrets turned around and fired. The large bolt drew a beautiful arc in the air before shooting into the rear-end of the airship. This caused the latter to roll out for over a hundred meters before bursting into a ball of flames.
The fortress was in chaos at this point. The new soldiers who had just arrived encountered a fierce battle before receiving any defensive assignments.
Qianye leapt onto high-ground and started shouting loudly, sending the vacant soldiers to their defensive positions or to help the wounded. Numerous champions were doing the same thing, and that bearded man from before was one of them.
The Zhao clan had spared no resource in the fortress’ anti-air defenses. The density of firepower here was several times that of the most powerful fortress Qianye had ever seen. Such a deployment was enough to cover a medium-sized city, but the Zhao clan had stuffed it into a temporary, thousand-man fortress.
The dark races clearly hadn’t expected the firepower in the fortress to be so fierce. Their assault airships suffered heavy casualties in a short period as one vessel after another burst into flames and fell off the skies. After losing over half their forces, the remaining airships could no longer hold out and had to flee the fortress.
Qianye’s heart sank somewhat as he climbed onto the city wall and gazed far into the distance. This fortress was at the center of the first defensive line. He could see the Zhang clan army snaking away from within a nearby valley. Even with the dark race army only a few kilometers away, their marching speed remained the same—they neither sped up nor fell into confusion. The army was like a precise piece of machinery rumbling away toward a faraway land.
At this moment, the dark race fleet was gradually pushing closer. After suffering heavy casualties to their assault force, the fleet sent over ten warships toward the fortress. The vessels this time were different from the small, agile assault vessels which measured no more than thirty meters from bow to stern—they were all large, hundred-meter-long warships. They were mostly of the corvette class by imperial standards, with two belonging to the destroyer class.
The defensive firepower of the fortress was somewhat insufficient against these warships. Even the giant ballistae that seemed capable of destroying everything just now needed three strikes to destroy the foremost corvette.
Just as the Evernight fleet was about to arrive above the fort, an attack group split out from the main fleet, circled around the fortress and went after the Zhang clan army. The current retreating forces of the Zhang clan were no longer protected by an airship fleet.
It was at this moment that an imperial fleet rushed out from the dark clouds in the sky. This group wasn’t very big, but it was made up of elite, high-speed warships. The vessels ignored the battle around the Zhao clan fort and, instead, made a beeline for the Evernight main fleet.
The Evernight fleet looked massive, but in truth, most of them were transport and supply vessels. They were bound to suffer heavy casualties if the imperial squadron was allowed into their formation. The commander of the Evernight fleet wasn’t a simpleton, either. On the one hand, he mobilized warships to intercept the incoming force, intent on stalling them at all costs. Meanwhile, he summoned back the sub-fleet chasing after the Zhang clan and ordered the transports to scatter. Within moments, the large fleet had spread out into several parts, each handling their own tasks in an orderly fashion.
However, the elite imperial assault force rushed straight into the heart of the Evernight fleet. It stabbed into the enemy force like a ferocious wedge and began stirring them up from the inside. Immediately, hundreds of warships broke into an all-out battle less than a thousand meters from the ground. The scene was unbearably chaotic—one transport after another burst into flames, and some even exploded on the spot.
At the critical juncture, all the dark race transport ships opened their cabin doors and poured the soldiers out, regardless of the altitude. Some transports even started dumping soldiers several hundred meters from the ground. High-ranking soldiers might not die at such a height, but the less powerful ones, including the cannon fodder, would perish without a doubt.
“Ruthless!” Song Zining exclaimed.
Although the Evernight fleet’s actions inflicted great casualties upon their troops, the effects were instant. In a short moment, the transports had dumped all of their passengers and left the battlefield. These empty transports had no more value to the imperial assault force. The latter wasn’t made up of air to ground gunships, so they had no effective way to wipe out the soldiers blanketing the ground below them. At most, they would strafe through them with autocannons when the opportunity arose.
The imperial squadron commander was a decisive man. He immediately assembled the airships, paid a steep price to tear open a passage at the rear of the Evernight fleet, and retreated at full speed.
This aerial battle was as bitter as it was brief—both sides lost hundreds of airships in a short period, and the stretching hills below were dotted with smoking wrecks. The abrupt attack caused the Evernight fleet to suffer dearly, the greatest loss being the dozens of fully-loaded transports that had exploded mid-air. Tens of thousands of soldiers and cannon fodder had lost their lives without ever reaching the ground.
The hilly wilderness below was full of dark race soldiers. Everything was in chaos—the dumping left wounded soldiers everywhere, with no shortage of corpses among them. In total, the dark race had lost over forty thousand soldiers, an entire twenty percent of the forces they had deployed here.
However, most of the dead soldiers were cannon fodder, and the casualty rate among high-ranking soldiers wasn’t that high. Hence, the decline in their fighting power wasn’t as significant as one would expect.
Right after the first imperial fleet had left, the next appeared through the clouds. This one didn’t jump into the fray, however, and only wandered around the periphery. Apparently, they were looking to harass and delay the enemy airships. Of course, they wouldn’t mind going in for a bite should the opportunity arise.
The Evernight fleet wasn’t careless at all. The commander split off several small airships and a segment of the troops on the ground, approximately ten thousand in number, and ordered them to assault the fortress. He paid no attention to the designation of these soldiers or whether they were properly equipped.
On the other hand, the Evernight forces mobilized all available high-speed warships to confront the imperial fleet from a distance. As for the other soldiers, they were ordered to reorganize their ranks. Just like that, the chaotic battlefield miraculously began showing some signs of order.
The imperial fleet didn’t launch an attack. The void fleet was a crucial domain related to the fate of the entire battle and couldn’t afford to suffer rash damage.
Looking at the dark race soldiers swarming over, Song Zining let out a deep sigh. “This battle won’t be easy.”
“It’s too late for regrets since we’re already here.” With that, Qianye picked up a multi-barreled machine gun and opened fire.
The gatling gun roared loudly as it spat out a hail of bullets into the enemy forces from a thousand meters away. The soldiers on the defensive line were startled—wasn’t he firing from too far away? Although the gatling gun’s maximum range was indeed a thousand meters, how was one able to aim at such a distance?
However, Qianye didn’t care about all that. The dark race soldiers in the distance fell down in droves as his guns screamed on. Just how high was his accuracy!?Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Here we go!
TL: Legion ED: Moxie
Teaser Source: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/348254983668059687/?lp=true