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Chapter 561: Moving Out

    Chapter 561: Moving Out

    No matter where in the universe, dawn was the time when people were at their most sluggish. Awakening from deep sleep, it takes everyone time to clear the haze from their mind. As the sky brightened, however, the base gradually became darker as a shadow fell over it.

    Lan Jue's eyes popped open. He glanced at the time, then got out of the verticar. He stretched and got his fluids moving as a smile crept onto his face. He was looking forward to this.

    Destroying the Red Widows was a given - it was going to happen, and the Star Division was more than capable of it without his help. However, their goal was to obtain experience with zero casualties. Pulling off a flawless victory was more difficult to do.

    Beside the verticar hanger was the main entrance to the defense spire. According to the pirate he interrogated, there were always twenty mecha on patrol and another eighty personnel on standby. That meant that at any sign of danger, a hundred mechas could immediately be mobilized. Beyond that, the area was thick with monitoring equipment and security checks.

    To Lan Jue, that last part wasn't much of a problem anymore. He walked up to the elevator he saw the pirate exit from and pressed the call button. Then, he dissolved into lightning and slipped through the walls. The insulation was just as thick here, so he couldn't move anywhere, but at least he could remain unseen.

    The elevator arrived, and with it the familiar beam of sweeping light. Lan Jue's hand appeared jutting from a corner of the wall with one of the pirate communicators strapped to his wrist. Despite the strange angle, the security check picked it up right away.

    The light vanished, it was safe to enter. There was a soft flicker of electric light and Lan Jue reappeared. He stepped into the elevator.

    Like the rest of the building, the elevator was metal. He hid within the walls as he'd done before which kept him away from the prying eyes of cameras. One of the buttons inexplicably lit up as it was pressed, then the elevator began to descend.

    The control center was underground, as well as those twenty patrolling mechas. However the lower he went the better Lan Jue felt. The world of metal was now free from the insulation of the higher floors and opened up space to move around.

    The pirate's information proved credible again when he quickly found the master control room. Outside were four mecha suits facing away from the door with weapons at the ready. For the Red Widows, this was the very heart of their whole organization.

    Unfortunately for them, they weren't ready for electricity.

    Lan Jue buzzed through the wall, reforming on the other side. More than twenty pirates were busily working the various systems. He could see right away that it was an advanced set-up, no less impressive than what could be found in the Three Alliances. They must have paid through the nose for it.

    He casually walked across the control room as he looked around. He spotted his objective quickly; the planetary defense controls. They were somewhat of a misnomer, because they were actually an integrated design. Aside from coordinating defense, it also constituted early warning systems, probes, counter-attacks and so forth.

    The electromagnetic field around the planet was part of its detection and warning systems. When an enemy entered the field, it immediately tripped the alarms and the system reacted.

    Lan Jue's purpose right now wasn't to blow things up. All he needed was an opening for his people to bypass that field. He quickly sent a message to Majesty to be ready.

    "Ugh, I'm so tired. Shift's over soon, you wanna grab some grub?" A pirate stretched, looking fatigued.

    "More'n eat. We've been burning the midnight oil, I need to relax. Let's grab a drink. A glass before bed is relaxing. Whaddaya guys think?"

    "Nice, sounds good to me. Shame there aren't any fat-ass women around in the morning to make that drink go down smoother."

    "Give it a week and it'll be better. Next week we've got the day shift, then we'll have the nights to ourselves. Compared to our brothers on the other asteroids we've got it good. They only rotate back here once a month. We can get practically whenever we want when we want it."

    "Well it's about that time, next shift should be here soon. Man the night shift is tiring."

    They started arranging everything to pass on to the next shift when, suddenly, every screen flickered and went black.

    "What the hell is this?" The room was plunged into darkness for a moment before the emergency lights kicked in. The pirates were a flurry of confused motion. This was the first time they'd encountered this problem. Power was steady across all the asteroids, and they had three backup generators. Total power should not have been possible!

    They clambered over one another to try and pinpoint the malfunction.

    "Quick! Let the commander know!" One of the pirates ordered.

    However, right then all the lights and screens came back online with an electric buzz. Everything was normal. One of the pirates - the one who was going to report to the commander - looked around surprised for a moment then dropped his communicator.

    "Should I still call him?" He asked.

    The one who was apparently in charge was also unsure of how to proceed. They all knew how important this place was, to the clan and to Red Widow himself. They didn't dare shirk their duties lest they risk being punished.

    "Check the systems first. See if there are any problems." Their leader answered. Red Widow pirates weren't military soldiers, so their incentives weren't to deal with problems head on. He chose the safer option, for his own hide, and decided to see how bad things were first.

    One by one the pirates reported no problems in any sector.

    The leader pondered for a moment. "Maybe it was an electron flare that shorted everything. Everything looks good now, there doesn't seem to be any problems. Stick to it a little longer and see if you can find any anomalies on the planet's surface."

    "Nothing, everything's normal. Not even a fly." Another one of the pirates called out to him right away.

    What they didn't know was that flickering was a sign. All their images and communications were now being streamed directly to a monitoring device that wasn't part of their system. Someone else had access.

    Lan Jue was long gone. He was back inside the verticar. Luckily the pirate he'd snagged from the earlier had been someone of some importance to have this car to get around in. It made Lan Jue's life easier.

    As he rose into the air and flew off, he got in touch with Majesty. "Did it all work out?"

    The Accountant's voice answered. "Of course it did. If yours truly is on it, it gets done right. We're in the base's airspace, I'll send you the coordinates. First Division Alpha Squad has boots on the ground and are waiting for you to arrive."

    "Alright, be there soon!"

    He tore through the air toward Majesty. With coordinates in hand, finding the invisible ship wasn't difficult. It was in a restricted zone.

    The asteroid had several restricted zones that were flooded with radiation. You needed special permission to get in, and then had to follow a specific path to make your way through. Without special approval, no pirates were coming through this way.

    Of course, this didn't stop Lan Jue. He flew the car to the borders of the quarantine and used his Discipline to get past the walls. As the Monarch poured his Talent into his speed, a golden aura buzzed around him. He flew so fast through the irradiated wastelands that satellites would only see a streak of dim light. This early in the morning, anyone seeing that light would be too groggy to recognize what it might be.

    In a blink he was at the coordinates. The faintest eminence of energy tickled at his senses, and it was there he went. A flash of electric light, and he vanished near the source of the pulses.

    "Here!" Lan Jue reappeared to find Alpha Team waiting nearby, led by the Pharmacist. They were joined by another woman. Judging by her uniform she was part of Fourth Brigade. She was here because her Talent made groups of soldiers invisible. A priceless addition to their mission.

    "Put 'em on." Lan Jue passed out the communicators he'd pilfered from the pirates. The soldiers did as they were told. Moments later they were heading back the way Lan Jue had come.

    Mechs guarded each of these restricted areas, but the one Majesty chose was remote. The path to and from was only big enough for a ship or a few mechs as well. Because danger seemed so unlikely from this location, only two mechs were on stationed here to keep watch.

    They crept to the gates under the cloak of invisibility. When they arrived, Lan Jue called them to a halt with a gesture. "Stay here. I'll deal with the guards."

    He didn't wait for acknowledgement. Their commander became a bolt of lightning and disappeared.

    The two mechas guarding the area stood outside. As dawn broke and the shift change neared, the pilots were sleepy and looking forward to bed. The only thing keeping them awake was the punishment they'd receive if they were caught sleeping.

    Neither understood why there were here guarding a gate strong enough to survive a nuclear blast. To them, it was a waste of time and their abilities.

    Suddenly, both of them felt a numbness penetrate right to their hearts. They clutched feebly at their chests for a moment before slipping into unconsciousness. It was virtually painless.

    "Open the gate." Lan Jue gave the order through his communicator.

    "Got it, right away!" The massive door creaked as it opened a crack. Just enough to let a series of dark silhouettes slip through.
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