After the warships had receded over the horizon, a series of cargo and troop transports took to the air, slowly falling into formation before flying off into the distance.
The cargo and troop transport airships moved in squadrons of ten as they meandered toward a distant assembly point.
This squadron stretched fairly long—it was only noon when the first batch took off, but the last batch was still on the landing pad at midnight. Compared to the awesome spectacle of the warship fleet, the supply transports were vastly inferior. Almost all of them were civilian use airships with very mediocre take-off and flying speeds.
But that was also quite normal. If the neutral lands could produce an elite fleet for logistics, then it wouldn’t be just the heavenly monarch’s residence being restless.
No matter how organized such fleets were, it couldn't really make up for the lacking performance of each individual airship. This was doubtlessly the biggest fat sheep in the pirate-infested neutral lands. Countless people began to stir, relaying this information in every direction and to every dark corner of the neutral lands.
Pirates normally didn’t dare to take action without careful thought. When the riches in question reached a certain threshold, however, some desperate people would decide to take the chance.
These people took off under public eyes, but they quickly disappeared and were never heard from again.
Qianye and Song Zining were traveling behind the transport squadrons. The plan was prepared for the people from the heavenly monarch’s residence, but all it raked in were some pirates.
The journey wasn’t without losses; three cargo vessels were destroyed by pirates, and one sank due to malfunction. The damage was almost negligible to the massive fleet, but none of the attacking pirates were left alive. No matter how clever they were at piloting, they simply couldn’t escape from the clutches of the Empire’s cutting-edge battlecruiser.
Some pirates fought to the bitter end, while others surrendered in desperation. This journey back and forth added more than a dozen pirate ships and over a thousand captives. According to the rules of the neutral lands, these pirates would be used as cannon fodder and released onto the battlefield as the first wave. Only the survivors would be truly pardoned.
In the command room, Song Zining and Qianye had assembled all the commanders to announce the battle plans.
According to the Empire’s overall plan, the airship squadrons would assemble at a designated location to establish connection with the Imperial fleet. They would then move to their assigned battlefields at the right time to fight the Evernight forces.
Dark Flame’s role in this expedition was to attack the enemy from the rear. They would have to wait for the main forces to lock horns with the Evernight fleet before making their appearance at a weak flank, either attacking the rear of the enemy fleet, incoming reinforcements, or other valuable targets.
Such a mission didn’t sound too dangerous and it was also in line with Dark Flame’s high-mobility. Hence, there was really no reason to refuse.
The mission assignment brightened up the faces of Dark Flame’s commanding officers. A war between daybreak and Evernight would always affect the neutral powers around the battlefield, forcing them to join the fight whether they were willing or not. As veteran mercenaries, the mercenaries of Dark Flame had experienced this situation more than once.
In this kind of war, they were most afraid of being sold out unknowingly and becoming expendable cannon fodder. Now that the missions were assigned according to their strength, it seemed fairly reasonable. There was also nothing to complain about since they were in a position to both attack and retreat.
Seeing that no one had any objections, Song Zining ordered everyone back to their posts.
Moments later, six Imperial corvettes, a battlecruiser, and a warship that could barely keep up with the squadron left for their objective.
On the bridge, Qianye and Song Zining were gazing out at the boundless void. The former said, “Is this enough? Do you want to use that?”
“Let’s observe the situation first.”
Qianye frowned for a moment before saying, “There seems to be no scheme going on, at least from the current battle plan.”
Song Zining sighed. “Seeing no scheme in this stage worries me even more.”
“Let’s play it by ear, step by step. There’s no use thinking about it. We’ll just solve the problems as they come up.” Qianye’s voice was calm.
In the depths of the void, a massive airship fleet was slowly moving toward the void continent. The two battlecruisers at the van were exceptionally eye-catching. The fleet was made up of six battleships and a mothership, almost like a fortress floating in the void. The stifling feeling it gave off was almost indescribable.
On one of the battleships, there stood an elegant man. He looked quiet and gentle, but there was a suppressive might around him that resembled the mountain ranges. This was the Minister of the Right who held great power in the Empire. It was just that the man was fairly reserved, gentle, and even looked weak. He rarely ever raised his voice, even when he was furious. Only today, on this warship, did he reveal a side of him that no one had seen before.
Those on the bridge were the minister’s trusted aides. Everyone was quiet and trembling under the great pressure.
It was the Minister of the Right who ultimately broke the silence. Muttering to himself, he said, “So this is the taste of war and murder. Heh! No wonder those generals care little about people from the Imperial court.”
Those standing nearby exchanged glances, not knowing what his words meant. From what they knew, the minister was never one to speak meaninglessly. Since his words were usually of great significance, the crowd began to meditate on what he said in an attempt to decipher the meaning.
An old attendant, who had followed the family for two generations, said boldly, “Sire, according to the current formation, this warship will be at the vanguard once the fight breaks out. Your wellbeing is priceless, so how can we take this kind of risk? The Empire will suffer great losses if something happens to you. I think we should change the formation.”
Another person said, “Our lord is a loyal subject of the Empire and not one to fear death. Your words are inappropriate, but I agree that the current formation will put us at a disadvantage during engagement. There’s no telling when the enemy fleet will appear, so it’s best to change the formation.”
These words were much more subtly spoken. The first elder wasn’t angry, either, and merely waited for the minister’s reply.
The two placed emphasis on different things with their toadying. One was balanced and the other was loyal, but both of them were shoulder to shoulder in terms of verbal skill.
The Minister of the Right finally turned back with a smile. He raised his right hand but didn’t say anything else. Everyone knew that he was about to make an important decision. The man would usually contemplate his options before making a critical decision, and only speak when he was certain there were no problems.
The longer his silence, the more important the topic would be.
The minister took longer than usual this time, so long that even the smile on his face seemed distorted. The people nearby felt their craned necks growing tired, but the Minister of the Right still hadn’t spoken.
Finally, the minister glanced over everyone’s faces and said, “This fleet is made up of the combined forces of the Second and Third Imperial Guard. While technically the vanguard, our fighting power far exceeds the main forces of the First Imperial Guard. Since the Empire has assigned me as the commander of the vanguard, I must size up the situation and plan for everything. It seems the current formation has to change.”
Many of the followers looked delighted, but no one knew if they were happy about the minister’s safety or their own little lives.
The Minister of the Right said in a deep voice, “Issue my order! Switch to assault formation. Move this warship to the fore of the fleet!”
The old attendant said, “Sire, you must not put yourself at risk!”
The minister raised his hand to stop all the dissuasion. “As the commander, I must be at the very front of the army if I want them to risk their lives for me. That is what it means to be the vanguard.”
The massive formation of airships transformed slowly as, one after the other, the Evernight airships appeared over the horizon.
The Minister of the Right stood before the window, gazing at the endless void and the slowly approaching enemy fleet.
The Evernight fleet was somewhat inferior in quality, but they were numerous and their airships were big. The two giant vessels on either side of the fleet were even bigger and more sinister-looking than the Empire’s battleships. Clearly, they were duke-grade flagships.
The Imperial vanguard held the advantage, but it was rather limited and a bitter fight was inevitable. The Minister of the Right was expressionless and merely kept on gazing ahead. Only when the two fleets were gradually drawing close did he issue his second order. “This vessel shall take point. All ships, attack!”
Everyone was shocked out of their wits because such a method would leave the vanguard flagship in great peril. One had to know that there were no peak experts protecting this warship, and they only had mechanical fighting power to rely on.
The Minister of the Right suddenly looked back. “I might specialize in trickery and tactics, but there’s none of that in this fight!”
No tactics? Was he planning to lead the army into a brute-force battle? These people were all skilled in subduing political opponents and scheming against people, but none of them were willing to lead the charge.
But it was too late to turn back. Both armies were charging at full speed and would soon arrive within firing range. All they could see outside of the cabin windows was a firework display of enemy cannons and sparks.
As beautiful as those flames were, what the people here saw was death and despair. This was a sign that the Evernight warships had opened fire, with each spark representing a cannon shell.
On the Empire side, tens of thousands of fiery raindrops whistled past the minister’s flagship and fell toward the enemy fleet. Those were the Empire’s ballistae, taking charge of spreading death and destruction among the enemy.
As expected, the flagship at the van of the fleet soaked up most of the enemy fire. Countless cannon shots fell upon the flagship and erupted into dazzling balls of fire. The vessel was soon submerged in a pool of flames.
The Imperial captains all held their breath as they gazed at the sea of flames in front.
The next moment, the flagship leaped out of the firestorm like a phoenix!
Like an angry immortal bird, the flagship charged into the Evernight formation, spewing dozens of flaming streams from either side. Several enemy vessels were destroyed within moments.
After a moment of silence, every ship in the Imperial fleet broke out in cheers. Then all the captains shouted out orders in a hysterical manner, sending the entire Imperial fleet charging into the enemy like a wild bison!
The Evernight fleet reacted quickly after their initial confusion. They concentrated all their fire upon the minister’s flagship.
The flagship was like a buffalo surrounded by a pack of lions. It charged left and right, sustaining injuries all over its body while the bison horde outside tried to push in for the rescue.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
TL: Legion ED: Moxie