In the depths of the void, Qianye and Song Zining were standing atop the battlecruiser and gazing at the distant battle. The gigantic monster of an airship lay quietly in the darkness, waiting for the moment to attack.
It was difficult to send out scouts in the void. Those so-called surveillance equipment mostly utilized origin power feedback or spatial transmission to scan a certain area at fixed intervals, collecting information in a single direction. They would then remove interference, analyze, and restore the data. However, the void environment was so complicated that the accuracy of data received from such surveillance was usually a jumping number. That was why an expert’s vision was still the most reliable.
Qianye was at the greatest distance his superior vision could reach. Supported by True Sight, he was able to observe the ongoing battle in detail and not suffer any interference from the origin power shockwaves.
Song Zining did not have this kind of visual power, but there was a faint halo of light on his right palm. Upon closer examination, there were threads of rolling light that actually formed a projected image.
Qianye was curious. “This doesn’t look like divination. Is this a refraction from Worldly Prosperity?”
Song Zining said mysteriously, “Worldly Prosperity… Worldly Prosperity… whatever you see is, of course, the truth.”
Qianye wanted to say something but his expression turned serious when he saw the warship bathed in flames amidst the Evernight fleet. Imperial fleets had their own special insignia—that soaring serpent of gold and blue represented the Imperial Guard, their flagship no less.
Qianye said, “Say, do you think the Minister of the Right is on that warship?”
“Yes,” Song Zining replied without hesitation.
“What’s he doing? Courting death?”
“If his flagship doesn’t fall, this is the fastest and least costly way to defeat the Evernight fleet. The price he has to pay personally is quite high, however. Even if he wins the battle, it’s quite likely that he’ll die in the process.”
“That doesn’t sound like his usual style. Aren’t those ministers all afraid of death?” Qianye asked.
Song Zining clenched his fist, shattering the motes of light through his fingers. “How can someone at that position be incapable? They might be afraid of many things, and death is one of them, but it’s probably the last on their list of fears. Once they think things through and feel that death is a necessary price, they can be fearless as well. Besides, death in battle is an honorable death.”
Qianye found the explanation reasonable after some thought. It was just that he felt somewhat embarrassed because it was entirely different from what he had been hearing.
Song Zining knew what he was thinking. “There are a lot of powerful people in court who have forgotten their aspirations of yesteryears, but definitely not the Minister of the Right. From what I know, this man is so highly disciplined and simple in his daily life that he looks rather poor. Even for shows of extravagance and luxury, he merely did enough to maintain a level of dignity befitting of his post. Such a person is surely destined for great things and he will pay any price to reach his objective. If we’re talking about people who are afraid of death, he’s definitely not among them!”
Qianye only uttered one word, “Madman.”
“Yes he is, from a certain perspective, but are we not as well if measured by the same standards?” Song Zining replied.
Qianye pointed at the battlefield, saying, “What do we do? Shall we charge? Do we use the Martyr’s Palace?”
Song Zining shook his head. “The Martyr’s Palace is our last trump card. We must not use it until we have absolutely no choice…”
He hadn’t finished speaking when a ball of flames lit up, and it was visible to the naked eye even at this distance. An Imperial corvette had been blown apart by the enemy warship’s main cannon. The attack was so powerful that there wasn’t even a burning phase.
Moments later, the airship below the duo rocked gently from the shockwave of that distant explosion. Even at this distance, the massive, well-stabilized body of the battlecruiser was still rocked about. One could easily imagine how violent the explosion was, and that there would be no survivors.
Soon, two balls of fire appeared again as two Imperial corvettes were blown up.
The Imperial fleet’s charge was too fierce. They messed up their own formation during the advance, causing the smaller, more mobile corvettes to shoot past their peers to the front of the fleet. Despite losing three warships, morale was high for the Imperial forces. They charged with greater ferocity, eyes red as they rained destruction and firepower upon the enemy.
“We attack!” Qianye issued the order.
Song Zining said in shock, “Not yet!”
“When is the right time then?” Qianye had rarely raised his voice before.
“The Evernight side might have reinforcements lying in wait. We should at least confirm whether or not they have backup before attacking.” Song Zining frowned. “And we still don’t know the minister’s scheme…”
“So we’re going to wait until the Empire and Evernight have exhausted one another to a certain degree?” Qianye revealed Song Zining’s plan.
The seventh young noble didn’t deny. “Qianye, this is a war, not a battle. We will be the ones to take a loss if we don’t maximize our advantage.”
“Attack!” Qianye repeated the order, transmitting his voice clearly throughout the command room. Not daring to go against his orders, the Dark Flame captain relayed the order to accelerate and approach the battlefield.
Song Zining heaved a sigh but did not attempt to stop him again.
The battle was growing more and more intense. Airships from both parties were exploding, leaving flame wreckages throughout the area. The Minister of the Right’s airship was miraculously holding out—it had broken through the Evernight warfront to rejoin the Imperial forces.
At this point, there were flames all over the airship's body. One could see courageous soldiers in simple armor, running along the outside of the ship as they tried to put out the fire in critical locations. The vessel kept firing constantly and seemed to have no intention of retreating from battle.
Alternating red and blue lights flickered from the bridge. That was a common light signal in the Imperial fleet: fight to the death!
An elegant giant battlecruiser appeared swiftly behind the Evernight lines and occupied an advantageous position. The smaller, more important vessels behind the formation fell into chaos, scattering away in confusion.
Qianye and Song Zining walked onto the bridge as the people below were busy issuing orders and exchanging information.
Qianye said in a soft voice, “Sorry, I really can’t watch those soldiers die just like that. The Minister of the Right is one matter, those soldiers, the foundation of the army, is a different matter.”
He hadn’t finished speaking when the entire warship jolted violently as a stream of flame shot toward the distant Evernight fleet. The projectile landed on a destroyer and immediately sent its rear end flying.
Song Zining remained silent.
After the rumble of the main cannon, the airship turned about and took aim at the Evernight fleet with its side cannons. This time, dozens of thinner streaks shot out from the battlecruiser. The vessel kept turning in this manner, firing in turn from its rear main cannon, and then the cannons on the other side.
The warship changed locations constantly as it poured out a constant stream of rotating fire. Only a new battlecruiser like this could use this kind of tactic. Ordinary warships weren’t stable enough to fire while moving, or they would never hit their targets.
After a round of artillery, the battlecruiser had finished off a destroyer and messed up the enemy fleet’s rear formation. It even landed a couple of shots on a duke-grade airship, but the vessel’s defense was simply too powerful. The ballista bolts only produced a couple of flames on the target, which were duly extinguished.
The dark race duke-grade warships were bigger than their Imperial counterparts and comparable to a mothership in terms of firepower. It was twice as powerful as Qianye’s battlecruiser. If the two of them were in direct confrontation, the battlecruiser would have to run.
Dark Flame’s captain naturally wouldn’t approach the duke-grade ship’s position. After unleashing all firepower, the battlecruiser left the tangent in a beautiful arc.
Unexpectedly, the scattered Evernight fleet didn’t reform and spread out even further, producing a large clearing. The enemy duke-grade airship then began to turn about slowly.
Song Zining’s expression shifted drastically. He jumped down from the operation area and pushed away the captain, taking charge of the ship personally and issuing a series of commands. The battlecruiser sped up and circled around to the duke flagship’s rear, where its accuracy would rise sharply.
However, the battlecruiser’s firepower appeared weak before the duke flagship. The side-cannons wouldn’t even scratch the gigantic vessel. Only the main cannons could open up some wounds, but even that was nowhere near damaging enough. It would take forever to circle around and kite the flagship until it sank. Meanwhile, the battlecruiser would be crippled by a single shot from the enemy main cannon.
Battlecruisers were proficient in roaming and not in a head-on battle. Its equipment was geared toward speed and damage. Song Zining’s current course of action was because there was no other choice. The Evernight didn’t make light of this small ambush from a battlecruiser and a couple of corvettes, forgoing the formation of a retaliatory squad to sound out the enemy’s firepower and directly ordering the duke-grade warship to suppress them.
With Dark Flame soaking up the pressure, the scales began to tip in favor of the Imperial forces on the battlefield. One of the duke grade flagships was occupied and the other was locked in a fierce battle with two Imperial battleships. The situation deteriorated for Evernight as their airships were repeatedly destroyed.
The Imperial fleet also suffered heavy casualties from the retaliation.
To everyone’s surprise, Qianye suddenly left the bridge and stepped into the void. Charging out was akin to courting death under present circumstances. However, Qianye was extremely fast and had vanished in two flickers.
Song Zining wanted to say something, but he ultimately kept his silence.
The battle remained fierce, with warships going up in flames every minute. The situation on the Evernight side looked dire, but they refused to retreat under any circumstances. The two duke flagships were incomparably ferocious as they rampaged through the battlefield. Despite his best efforts, Song Zining couldn’t keep that duke flagship in check. After its return to the main battlefield, it destroyed three Imperial warships with a single volley from its side cannons.
The battlecruiser shuttled through the fire-filled sky, avoiding the main cannons of the duke ship as well as projectiles from other vessels. Even with Worldly Prosperity and Song Zining’s sharp thinking, he could barely hold his ground. There simply was no way to turn the battle around.
Destroying the two duke-grade flagships would involve a bitter price, and from what Song Zining knew about the Evernight Council, these major characters were fighting so staunchly because they had powerful backup. Enemy reinforcements could arrive at any moment, but the Empire’s so-called main forces were still far behind and their strength was only about the same as the Minister of the Right’s vanguard.
The minister’s flagship was almost shrouded in rolling smoke. Although the visible flames had been extinguished, the damage was a shocking sight to see. There were half a dozen large holes that were several meters wide. It was a miracle the vessel hadn’t exploded, but one could easily see that its propulsion had been damaged. Its main cannon had been blasted away, and the side cannons were barely functional. Having lost its capacity to fight, the giant airship could only edge back slowly.
Having fought to this state, no one could complain about the Minister of the Right.
It was at this moment that a bright light lit up in the distant void. At first, it was just a faint star, but the radiance grew in the blink of an eye and it was flickering regularly. The mixture of bright yellow and faint purple was characteristic of the Evernight forces.
The dark race reinforcements had arrived!
Almost all the Imperial captains roared in frustration, banged on the control panel, or kicked their chair away.
Everything had been for naught—that was everyone’s thought.
If they could get an extra half an hour, or even twenty minutes, they would be able to damage those two duke flagships at the very least. At that point, the crew and reserves on those airships would be doomed.
Such a good situation was difficult to come by. The Imperial fleet wouldn’t have gained such an advantage if the Minister of the Right hadn’t charged in and messed up the enemy formation. But now, the Evernight reinforcements were here and all the advantage the minister had risked his life to buy was now gone.
The light in the distance grew clearer. The other party had no intention of hiding their presence as this armada of three duke-grade warships was far above the current forces.
The Empire’s so-called main force was only half the size of Evernight reinforcements. Even if they could arrive on time, there was no way they could turn the tides.
The only way out for the Empire was to spit out the fish they were swallowing and retreat.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
TL: Legion ED: Moxie