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Chapter 574: In Full Swing

    Chapter 574: In Full Swing

    When the Pontiff's men came for her, they came in the guise of friendship. Had they been an obvious foe, invasion would have been difficult. However, it wasn't proving impossible for Lan Jue and the Driver. Any metallic structure was like a house with paper walls to them. Trying to insulate a place this large from electricity was difficult, there were bound to be openings. Xiaosu also confessed that it wasn't a concern for her when designing the structure's defenses.

    She still remembered the architecture like the back of her hand. While they went over the plan, she'd drawn out maps for Lan Jue and the Driver. They used it to direct them to the fortress' heart, where the defenses controls were kept. It also showed them where the leaderships' chambers were located.

    Their highest priority was disabling the planetary defenses. With their fortifications down, Majesty could take the fight to the other planet. They raced through the structure as bolts of lightning until they reached the control center. Because it was to be manned constantly, the center also boasted a fully equipped dormitory.

    Fundamentally similar to the Red Widows' systems, this control room was responsible for the planetary and fortress defenses. However, its expanded scale needed thirty men to manage instead of a handful. At night, though, they split the shift in half.

    Every corner of the control room had a mecha standing as silent sentinels. The roof was peppered with turrets - internal security measures. Xiaosu was a ninth level Talent, so she knew what kind of havoc an Adept of that level could do if they got in. She had no illusion that these mechas and turrets would stop an Adept. But they would delay them.

    She told them that the control room was designed as a self-sealing prison. If the alarm was tripped everyone inside was locked in, but the defenses switched to autopilot. A strong upgrade from the one they encountered from the Red Widows.

    The take-away; don't trip the alarm.

    The Accountant was in charge of that. He designed their response to this problem using the building's circuitry. That's why Lan Jue and the Driver were necessary. Lan Jue's task was to disable all eight alarm triggers before they had a chance to go off. Meanwhile, the Driver stood by ready to insert the Accountant's code into the system once Lan Jue was done. That would give their jittery hacker complete remote access.

    The two tasks had to be done at almost precisely the same moment. If not, the recursive system checks would spot a problem.

    The mechas were a non-issue.

    "Go!" Lan Jue whispered. Eight bolts of lightning slithered away in one blast. For a moment the control room went dark, but quickly returned to normal.

    "What the hell was that?" The pirates had begun to doze off, but the sudden flash had shaken them awake.

    "Am I going blind or did we have a blackout?" Another pirate asked.

    "You're probably blind, it was nothing. Everything looks normal to me, and there's an hour left on our shift. Next time you'll know better than to drink so much before work."

    ζ

    Space around the three main planets.

    The Accountant's face was lit by one of the many flickering screens aboard Majesty. His fingers were a blur as they made their way back and forth across the keyboard. Strings of data filled his eyes. The rest of his team were just as busy, silently toiling away at their stations.

    "We have control. Battle preparations are complete."

    "Locked on. Target; secondary planet alpha. Awaiting orders."

    The Accountant didn't hear their reports. All of his focus was on the screen in front of him. Two minutes later his finger triumphantly jabbed the enter key. His screen became alive with scrolling lines of code.

    "Got it! Whew, that's one hell of an encryption. You're lucky you know me. Anyone else, and this would have taken them three whole days. By then the whole system would have reset itself a dozen times."

    "Jewelry Master, it's taken care of. Begin!" He shot a quick message to Lan Jue then took control of Majesty. Under the veil provided by the Blinding Stone, the battleship slipped through the darkness of space toward their target.

    In the palace control room, two flashes of lightning heralded the appearance of Lan Jue and the Driver. In a brief hail of electricity, the pirates inside collapsed. The mecha suits began to react, but the two Division leaders were faster.

    Lan Jue's palm shot out, and a pair of golden lightning bolts impaled two of the mecha sentinels. They were normal military issue, and no hope of defending against his attacks. The controls inside were instantly destroyed. The Driver's attack was the same, though his lightning was a bright silver in hue.

    "Majesty. Control room secured."

    The Accountant's voice replied. "I've shut off all monitoring and alarm equipment. You're clear." With root control of the systems, disabling anything was quick as a thought for the Accountant. Their defenses were frozen.

    Lan Jue pulled his communicator up to his face. "Star Division, move out! Go, go, go!"

    A host of dark figures converged on the Moonfiend Palace. From a nearby building Su Xiaosu opened a hidden tunnel that would lead her into the heart of her former seat of power.

    Outside of the city, the planets' five airship hangars also found themselves the center of unwanted attention.

    The Coffee Master took the last sip of his Blue Mountain coffee. With a small, self-satisfied smile he waved his hand.

    "Boom-!" A thunderous explosion shook the ground. An hangar some yards away had its roof blasted clean off as blames belched from the ruin. The energy containment systems of one of the battleships had detonated. They were like fireworks. The blast was followed by another, and another, as the hangar became burning fields of debris.

    Installing and detonating the explosives had gone without a hitch - smoother than the Coffee Master had expected. His Third Brigade consisted of thirteen units, each with unique sets of skills. One of them had an Adept, seventh level, who could travel through the ground and bring people with him.

    Another Adept could condense their Discipline into a delayed charged electrical bomb. He could maintain them for three days, and detonate them with a thought. He was ninth level second degree, one of the Brigade's strongest.

    Another had X-ray vision strong enough to penetrate anything up to the hull of a Mothership.

    In combat, these Adepts had limited utility. However, they were perfectly suited for this sort of guerilla warfare. For instance, they had a sixth level Adept as well who was proficient with locks. Fingerprint, retinal, digital, combination - it didn't matter. With such a wonderful utility, installing the bombs took less than three hours.

    The beautiful pillars of fire were their reward for a job well done.

    "Start the ship, we've got places to be." The Coffee Master chortled.

    With their mission complete, the soldiers piled into the battleship now humming beneath their feet. This was their prize, a trophy they could ride into battle.

    In another hangar, the Bartender gave him commands at the same time. His dual-headed, red and blue hued mecha exploded into the sky. Two beams of lights were belched from the mechas mouths, reducing everything before it to rubble.

    This wasn't the mecha itself that produced such destruction. The Bartender had coalesced his power while they waited. All of his power was put into this one attack, strengthening it to the level of a battleship's main cannon.

    Boomm-mm-mm. The rumbling explosion draw the eye. Where once was an airship hangar, now roiled a smoldering mushroom cloud. The pirates inside didn't even know what hit them.

    Priorities were different out here. The pirates were trained to protect assets, not jump at the first sign of battle. There were only enough pirates to man the boats when they were preparing to attack. They did not anticipate a strike from within.

    The Bartender was pleasantly surprised by how easy infiltration had been. His Fourth Brigade was specialized in reconnaissance. It was not difficult to stealthily sneak into the hangar and begin preparations.

    Bahamut's attacks first made contact with the hangar's air control center. With it in ruins, the pirates had no way to contact the outside world. Their complete annihilation was assured. A series of explosions continued as the fires raged in what remained of the airship hangar.

    In addition to the Coffee Master's group, Fourth Brigade only had enough men to man a single battleship. It was the only way to avoid problems down the road. More explosions ripped through the air as friendly mechas flew by, solidifying their hold.

    Third and Fourth Brigade proved today how effective they were at commando missions.
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