Chapter 562: Bugle Call

    Chapter 562: Bugle Call

    The base's shields and doors were tied to the planetary defense system, and thus were located in the master control room. The Accountant's backdoor access gave him sway over it, and everything else.

    However, he had to be wary. The pirates' defenses were all-encompassing. If anyone in the control center saw anything out of the ordinary, they could immediately shut down any access outside of their servers. Lan Jue didn't dare let them know that he had his fingers in their pies. They weren't safe until they had total command over the control center.

    Alpha team slipped into the base. Lan Jue waved them over. "On me!" He started off into the sky. There were too many for the verticar, so they'd have to make their own way.

    The Pharmacist took up the invisibility specialist and lifted off the ground. The others of Alpha team followed and raced after Lan Jue toward the interior of the Red Widow base.

    The Accountant's people infiltrated their systems. They fed live intel of troop movements to the ground team's communicators.

    Lan Jue looked at the Pharmacist. "When we get there you take the team and clear the halls. I'll deal with the ones inside the main control room, then the operation will official begin."

    "Got it." The Pharmacist nodded and smirked in anticipation. This whole thing was a novel experience for her. She was eager for the new adventure.

    Disciplines as strong as they were no longer needed to fear the planet's defenses, after penetrating so deep into the base. If they wanted to, they could obliterate the control center with a wave of their hands. However, they would deprive the Star Division of their training. They had to learn, step by step, according to plan.

    Lan Jue called the elevator. In contrast to his initial sneaky ingress, he marched into the elevator with his team, tall and regal. The Accountant's work continuously scrubbed the videos to keep them hidden.

    The elevator began to drop. Ding! The doors opened.

    Lan Jue vanished in a flash. He crackled through the alloy walls toward his objective. Meanwhile the Pharmacist gestured for her soldiers to sweep and clear. Eyes snapped to communicators and off they went to hunt down the patrolling mechas.

    Lan Jue returned to the main control room. This time, there was no need for subtlety.

    The pirates showed no sign of distress after the brief outage. It'd given them a jump but the system checks had been all clear. The threat of punishment for a screw-up, though, had filled them with adrenaline. None of them were sleepy anymore.

    The one who was their leader muttered. "You guys did good today. When we get off, I'm buyin'."

    The other pirates loudly voiced their appreciation. Of course they knew it for what it was; a bribe to keep any word of that hiccup from getting out.

    Among them was a voice they did not recognize.

    "Gentlemen, the show is about to begin. Goodbye."

    Before anyone could react they lost all sensation. One by one they hit the ground, dead to the world. The thought of tripping an alarm didn't have time to cross their minds.

    Lan Jue pulled over a chair and took a seat. He used the base's comms to connect with the Accountant. "We have the master controls. Commence Operation Bugle Call."

    The Accountant's delighted voice answered. "Roger! You stay there and leave the rest to us!"


    Red Widow rubbed his sleepy eyes and sat up in his bed. Yesterday's raids had been draining, but they hadn't stripped him of his appetites. This was evident by the sleeping woman beside him.

    The sky was brightening outside his window. The planet's three satellites were great for defense, but he had a more personal reason for choosing the asteroid as a base. It's day-night cycle was just where he'd grown up.

    The guesses about his history were true. Red Widow had indeed been a former Northerner, enlisted in their army. He'd reached the rank of colonel before defecting.

    Ever since he was small he was gloomy and dark, a character very much like a spider. Once, when he was small, someone had stolen a girl he'd loved. He swore that day to become strong and exact revenge.

    Later, he became an honored soldier within military command. He was especially adept at planning assassinations and other wet work. He was himself a sovereign-ranked pilot at the time. There was no doubt he had a bright future.

    What he could never expect was that his sworn enemy was the son of an important military family. The day came when he would make his move. He stole into his nemesis' house and massacred every single person. The chips imbedded in their bodies, regular measures for military families, were activated. He immediately became public enemy number one.

    His training and prudence was what saved his life. He'd had a plan in case he was found out, to escape. The man that would became the Red Widow slipped away, mere inches from death.

    In the North, he became persona non grata overnight. He was a man without a nation. He then decided to gather some people and carve a home from the Shattered Starfields as a pirate king.

    Thinking on it now, he couldn't help but regret some of it. Perhaps if he had been more cautious, had not done it himself, he could have gotten away with it. Good prospects were lost. Even general wasn't out of reach back then. He'd been a rising star...

    One day, I'm going back! Red Widow fiercely assured himself.

    He got up, poured himself a glass of ice water and stretched. He walked over to the window and looked out over his domain.

    The stringent defenses and Red Widow's history were obviously closely connected. He lost a lot in being discovered, but he'd learned how to watch his back.

    Now, ten years after the fact, his Red Widow clan was flourishing. They stood on a strong foundation for growth. There were benefits to the life of a pirate as well. If you didn't like someone, you could end them without a second thought.

    You also got to pick your targets. His clan focused mostly on Northern merchants, and never left anyone breathing. This was eye for an eye for him, cruelty knew no bounds.

    "Huh?" The pirate commander's eyes peered toward the military district. It was about time for the morning training routine. But something was off.

    It was the air. It warped erratically, almost like hot air. And a strange sound...

    What the hell?

    Red Widow was wide awake. He threw on his flight suit and pulled his communicator up to his face. "Control. This is Red Widow. Is there something going on with our detection systems?"


    His response was an explosion that shook the base. The Red Widow stood there for a moment, his mind blank. An enemy attack?!

    The roar of the explosion ripped through the base. The Red Widow scrambled out of his building and look up just in time to see the colossal form

    Goddamn! That's a...

    A battleship? If it was it was an odd one. How could this be? How could a whole battleship suddenly appear a few dozen feet above my bed? Why wasn't it stopped by the defenses? Why wasn't there an alarm!

    The Red Widow was completely and thoroughly confused. He felt powerless against what he saw before him.

    Four great columns of light shot out from beneath the ship. Dark figures began to descend within the beams. Mechs. When they made landfall, they spread out in all directions like a plague.

    Red Widow clenched his jaw. He knew he had to keep his cool. This was his house, and he knew how to cause a little damage himself. He just needed the proper response - he still had a chance.

    The pirates proved their reputations. When the blast was heard, they'd begun to mobilize. Already there were groups of mechs converging to meet the enemy.

    What came was the apocalypse.


    Brigades one and two were responsible for routing the pirates' main force. Third Brigade was cleanup and rescue. The living area was left to Fourth Brigade. However, the planning was so complete as to involve every unit. They each had their objectives to contribute to the whole.

    Second Brigade starting taking the high ground while First Brigade sent their troops to the base's interior. The base had gone from a lazy morning to a tide of destructive energy in a matter of moments.


    Red Widow's mecha was red, his preferred color. He gathered what men he could and raced off.

    He didn't know how they got in, but they obviously had prepared. When he saw a group of his people mowed down by a single unit in less than ten seconds, it was clear; this was more than they could handle. He had to get out to the satellites and mount a counterattack. With the help of his own battleship he could recapture the base.

    But even as he thought it the pirate leader knew it was naïve. If the enemy could show up in the heart of his organization, they must know it well. They had to have an answer in case of off-world reinforcements.

    Red Widow's attention snapped back to the present when he saw a huge golden orb heading straight for him.

    "Block his path!" Red Widow roared. He needed time. No matter what was happening here, he had to get out first before he could take the next step. He had a ship here, newly refurbished. It was fast, and if he got out there was a chance to get these bastards back.

    His reputation was good in the Starfields. He had allies in other pirate clans. His mind raced for opportunities.
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