Chapter 541: Combat

    Chapter 541: Combat

    Lan Jue wasn't shaken by the fountain of gore. His eyes narrowed and he stopped their forward advance. Below, the ground rumbled and a series of sickening 'squelch' and 'poof' noises filled the air. Enormous alien monstrosity heaved themselves up from their surroundings covered in a strange sort of sludge. Roughly a hundred of them were belched from the violet landscape.

    Lan Jue issued his orders through a shared mecha comms channel. "You're all going to be fighting, but do not separate. Try your best to stay in the area. Gourmet, Pharmacist, we'll deal with the progenitor. Once it's finished we won't have to worry about reinforcements."

    He wasted no time, and urged Thor up high into the air. The two Ace Squad leaders were in close pursuit.

    The other two also had their own mechas, but were reluctant to use them. Lan Jue convinced them otherwise, explaining that mecha combat was a strength with benefits for safety. There was nothing else better. What's more, this was a Mecha division. He couldn't have his Ace Squad leaders shirking that rule.

    Their suits had been constructed to forgo combat effectiveness, and instead focus resource on boosting speed and amplifying Discipline. Their strength wasn't in piloting but Talent, so their mechas had to at least not impede that.

    The Gourmet's mecha was grey and smaller than Thor by two thirds. However, it was incredibly dexterous. Three pairs of wings were affixed to its back, and when they were unfurled, the jets on them made him incomparably fast. He was at Thor's side in a blink.

    The Pharmacist's mecha was white, covered in a flower pattern. It was slender and bore no weapons. Hers also bore wings that quickly caught her up with the other two. Three sparkling machines soared through the atmosphere toward the alien progenitor.

    But, just in that moment a dozen sprays of violet light shot toward the sky, as alien creatures rose to block their path. They were hideous things, with an aura as sick and toxic as they were. Corrosive gas poured from their maws as wings unfurled and issued them into the air.

    A flash of light issued from the Pharmacist's mecha. It was a flood of sharp energy that spread and brightened until it became a sword, blazing from the light of seven miniature stars. Scores of strikes just the same as what came from the Pharmacist covered the sky. When the alien invaders got within twenty meters, they were instantly cut apart into a hundred thousand pieces that tumbled to the ground below. Nothing was between them and the progenitor, but a cloud of fine violet mist.

    On Lan Jue's other side, the Gourmet's ash-grey mecha lifted its right hand. A tornado of crimson fire arose, and burned away the remaining cloud of blood and gas the monsters left behind.

    There were no normal monsters that could hope to block the likes of the Pharmacist or Gourmet. The progenitor seemed to sense this, and reacted by ripping its great branches from the building around it. Like great tentacles, the progenitor's pulsing limbs swatted at the three attackers.

    The beast was over three hundred meters tall, and oozing with terrible power. When its throbbing tentacle-arms began to writhe they nearly blotted out the sun.

    The Pharmacist's seven-star blade led the charge. One of the beast's tentacles heaved into view to cut off their approach. There was a flash, and tentacle reeled back with a vicious gash that almost cut it in half.

    Almost. Tough! Lan Jue knew how strong the Pharmacist and her sword were. Yet, just the creature's tentacle managed to survive a head-on strike. Surprised was not enough for what he felt.

    Of course, that didn't represent the Pharmacist's true strength. The single sword fractured into a hundred copies, and they swung through the air like a tornado of deadly light.

    Thor lifted its burly arm with the giant sword in its grip. The blade burned with a blinding light. In the next instant, its energy was released as a beam piercing through the heavens.

    After upgrades from both he and Jue Di, Thor was like a different beast altogether. The energy it released was strong, strong enough to satisfy Jue Di.

    Lan Jue was also a God-ranked pilot, in contrast with the Gourmet and Pharmacist who gave up their mecha training. His combat effectiveness was helped significantly by his piloting skills and Thor's new construction.

    A thick beam of shimmering golden light split the sky. The darkened sky was painted bright, and the clouds looked as though they were on fire. Joined with Qianlin, Zeus was currently at the peak of ninth level. With the formidable additions of Thor, his lightning was pregnant with protogenia.

    Soon after, the sky exploded into a magnificent light show, with golden bolts of lightning falling to earth all the way to the horizon. But their target was not the progenitor, or the other monsters. There were precisely as many bolts as there were soaring blades from the Pharmacist. The lightning sought the swords and collided with them, imbuing each with flickering electric power.

    What was strange about this lightning was more than the color. Whereas most lightning curved to find the path of least resistance, Thor's lightning bolts were perfectly straight. They fell upon the swords like beams of sizzling light. The next time one of those swords cut at a tentacle, they imparted their electricity into it. Sparks spewed from the wound, and coiling golden lightning consumed the flailing appendages.

    They were wracked with spasms. Between Zeus' power and the Pharmacist's strength, the tentacles' defenses were overcome. They were cut away and discarded like weeds.

    The progenitor squirmed and lifted a second host of tentacles to deal with its attackers. Lan Jue and the others weren't in a rush to pull out their big guns, though. These creatures were virtually unknown to them. This was an opportunity to see what else they could learn. Things were different now than they were on Taihua.

    Behind them, the numbers of both Ace Squads were already engaged with the monsters. They'd drawn themselves into a defensive posture so that each individual's strength was unimpeded. The best from pilots from First and Second Brigade unleashed a devastating counter as the alien's descended upon them. They specialized in long-range and melee combat respectively, making the aliens fight for every inch.

    Few aliens even approach the ring of deadly fire, and fewer pierced it. When they did the contingent of close range combatants made quick work of them.

    After months of training, there was an unspoken but universal understanding between all brigades. These Ace pilots were all ninth level and were well versed in mecha combat as well. A hundred of the creatures threw themselves at the humans, and a moment later a hundred alien corpses littered the poison ground.

    Yet, despite the relative ease, none of the soldiers were relaxed. During breaks in the fighting their eyes scanned the horizon. In the distance, it almost looked as though the ground was rolling toward them. Scores of black dots tainted the sky. Reinforcements.

    Zeus-1 had returned to Majesty and both entered the battlefield. As the ships hovered overhead, one mecha suit after another began to tumble from the cargo bays. They rushed to meet their brothers in arms and joined the fray.

    From on high the scene was particularly chilling. The ground rumbled and spat out aliens in droves. They burst from membranous cocoons, spewing caustic fluid every which way. Though they different drastically in size, every one of them rushed with incredible speed to the progenitor's defense.

    "First and Second Brigade, defend the Ace Squad's outer perimeter. Third and Fourth Brigades, reinforce and backup. Majesty and Zeus-1 are air support, fire at will."

    The human warriors rushed to their compatriots' aid. It was their first encounter with the monsters, but the Star Division warriors never missed a beat. The aliens were hideous and frightening to behold, but Lan Jue's charges were confident in their strength. They also knew that the Core crystals from these monsters was how the exuvium process was performed. The more they got, the better position they'd be in.

    Lan Jue didn't need to stoke their battle-fervor. They were already eager for a fight.

    Tang Xiao charged into battle with the unit he commanded, Squad 11, in tow. He didn't get the position due to his relationship with Lan Jue. The merits of his performance during the Division's creation was evident to everyone.

    At his request, his sister Tang Mi was also in his unit. In fact, most of his people were former members of the A.R.C. class.

    Tang Xiao's mecha bore a striking resembling with its pilot, enormous and plump. It looked a little ridiculous. No other mecha in the Division could best it in terms of bulk.

    "Squad, with me!" Tang Xiao commanded. He led his people down to earth. Lan Jue's standing command was not to come into contact with the purple swaths of ground, but not every inch was covered. Several taller mountains rose bald over the hellscape. Without vegetation to draw on, the aliens didn't appear interested in spreading over them.

    The squad left contrails through the air as they descended to the mountain's peak. Tang Xiao chuckled as he surveyed the battlefield. "Witness! Fat-God, transform!" Fat-God, of course, being the name of his mecha suit.

    Before their eyes, the soldiers watched as Tang Xiao's suit began to expand. It went from a solid tank to something like a water balloon as it swelled.

    "All aboard!" He cackled.

    His soldiers were used to Tang Xiao's means and antics. Without hesitation, they each one after the other vanished into the thirty-meter wide ball of undulating metal.
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