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Chapter 566: Reaching Moonfiend

    Chapter 566: Reaching Moonfiend

    Jun Yongye's tone was chastising. "Don't you find it troubling, so ponder on these things every day? I've told you that she will be fine. She joined seamlessly with Demortus. This baptism takes time to remold the body. In addition, her regenerative abilities are strong. Her coma is probably a result of the healing process. You should spend less time fretting and more time on yourself. Her Discipline may outstrip yours by the time she wakes up."

    ζ

    The three primary planets of the Shattered Starfields were like three enormous airship bases. Every day a constant stream of ships came and went. Like the Red Widows' asteroids, the planets worked together.

    The Pontiff's Citadel became more unscrupulous the more of the Starfields they controlled. A constant stream of resources trickled through what had practically become the Pontiff's backyard. Him and his organization injected the area with capital to help the fledgling pirate clans grow. Lately, with the Citadel's help, they'd begun constructing and repurposing battleships.

    The largest obstacle in the Starfields was its makeup. Larger ships couldn't maneuver through the pirates' playground. The battleships they relied on were weaker by comparison. That's why many of them were refitted. After a sufficient amount of power gems were installed they packed quite a punch.

    The Pontiff's Citadel was one of the West's greatest faith-based organizations. It was a powerhouse of industry. Money for these projects wasn't an issue.

    Meanwhile the rest of the Alliances were too busy preparing for an alien invasion. Too busy, at least, to worry over a bunch of pirates. The Pontiff's Citadel saw the opportunity and seized it, hence why the Starfields had come under their control so quickly.

    Back in the day, all three Alliances used to have their fingers in the Shattered Starfields. In those times conflict was constant as the Alliances took shots at each other for control. Not to mention, the pirates weren't so easy to order around. No one was able to get an upper hand.

    When Su Xiaosu was sent over, she didn't have the fear or reputation of the Pontiff's Citadel to help her. She relied on their backing and her own strength to establish what would become the Moonfiend Pirates. Now the Citadel had the pick of the litter, and regardless of everything else the power gems these three planets produced were enough to make the religious organization rich.

    A top of the line patrol boat sailed through space toward the biggest of the three primary planets. It was transporting rare metals, with two more patrol boats just behind as its entourage.

    "Planetary shields are opening. Entry permission granted." The electronic voice cooed through the ship's bridge. White light shimmered and dissipated away in to nothing, a sign that the shields were down.

    The three ships quietly continued on their way.

    The pilot of the ship scowled openly. "Why the hell do they have the shields up all the time, lately? They must be scared of that pirate clan."

    Another pirate answered. "How could they not be? Two months and already we've seen more than twenty clan go dark. No one knows what's happened to them. We also don't know if all of it was done by this new clan, but witnesses say they have at least one sovereign-ranked mecha pilot. And Blinding Stones."

    "Heh, they have the right idea. No better way to make money than to take it from thieves, right? Hit a few targets, then retire. Find yourself a nice, out-of-the-way planet and do whatever you please. That said we are too careful here. They have two ships, last we heard. If they're stupid enough to attack us here, that'd be like an old man eating a barrel of arsenic. Worse than throwing your life away."

    "Caution is a virtue. Raising these shields is a good idea. Now every ship that comes and goes is checked so thoroughly they can tell the color of your underwear right there on their screens. Talk about nasty. Now shut up and stop complaining. We're almost there, get ready to move."

    The three pirate ships deftly made their way to the airship hangar on the main planet and docked. Another boat, invisible to the human and electronic eye, slipped in right behind them. It did not dock, though, instead staying hidden over the settlement's airspace.

    Su Xiaosu had assumed personal command of Zeus-1. With her intimate knowledge, she led Mika as the Amazon piloted them through the skies. Their destination was the planet's largest mountain range. 1

    "The power gems mined here are c-ranked demon stones, named by the pirates. They're ground into powder to create some of the best catalysts for creation of alloys. It creates an enamel that can withstand temperatures up to three thousand degrees Celsius 2 It also serves as a reflective coating against energy attacks from a battleship. This is where they mine them. My old flagship's hull was covered in the stuff." There was a pang of regret in the former Pirate Queen's voice.

    "Demon Stones are radioactive, so the mountain ranges affect communications. Even satellite images are dim and hard to read out here. This will be the best LZ we can find."

    "Always with your eyes on the dollars," Lan Jue said, clapping a hand on her shoulder.

    Xiaosu smirked. "I'm fine, I made up my mind a long time ago. Before I was a patsy. Now I live my own life and make my own decisions. Relax, boss."

    So long as no one else was around, she preferred to refer to him the way his Amazons traditionally did.

    The area where they mined for the Demon Stones was expansive. Zeus-1 hovered overhead until it found a smooth patch between the mountains. It stopped perhaps a hundred meters above the ground and stopped. Its tractor beam sprang to life and delivered the soldiers to the planet's surface. They spread out to secure the landing zone.

    In order to speed up the process and avoid detection, Zeus-1 was overburdened with more than three hundred souls. They practically had to sit on top of one another, but it would take only three trips to get the whole brigade on the ground.

    The first round of soldiers were in place, hidden away within the mountains. Zeus-1 lifted back into the air and crept around until another opportunity to sneak by the shields presented itself. Just like the Red Widows, the defenses were good but not good enough.

    Lan Jue referred to the map Xiaosu had given him, and ordered Alpha Team to move out. While they waited for the rest of their people, they'd would need to establish a presence here in the mines.

    The closest settlement to the mines was still rather far. If they wanted to get more solid intel, they would need to hide their identities and get closer. Who better than indentured servants?

    A lot of these workers were slaves, captured by the pirates from outside. The planet was developed in part so their forced labor could work more comfortably. The pirates also didn't mistreat them too terribly. It took manpower to make places like this work, and every pair of hands was precious.

    So precious that they were worth the same as lower-end power gems. If you wanted to know how strong a pirate clan was, the easiest metric was to count how many people they had.

    1. Interestingly, a mountain range is called a 'mountain vein' or artery in Chinese.

    2. Nearly the temperature at the surface of the red supergiant Betelgeuse. Legends say if you speak the star's name three times it starts an inappropriate relationship with Winona Ryder.
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