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Chapter 659: Fight to the End

    Chapter 659: Fight to the End

    Zeus-1 darted ahead at full speed with Lan Qing's expedition ship close on its heels. They kept pace with one another, steady at FTL travel.

    ζ

    Lyr!

    "The mecha department is ready to engage, weapons are being distributed. Those who didn't want to remain behind have left with the evacuation ships." The Dean of Lyr Han Ruchao sounded hoarse and tired, but his eyes showed a steely determination

    Lyr University was one of the preeminent institutions of higher learning on the East, famed for producing quality soldiers and especially mecha pilots. But the aliens at had arrived suddenly, without warning, giving them no time to prepare. The initial order was for a full retreat, these students were considered the future of the East. Those who chose to evacuated with the civilian elderly, women and children. Nearby military garrisons sent transport ships to facilitate the evacuation.

    But the university was simply too big. The four ships were only able to evacuate six thousand people at a time, but the school's population was closer to fifteen thousand - they weren't getting everyone in a single trip. Yet, the military had no solution to this problem, all their other transport ships were tied up protecting the citizens of lyr.

    Their scramble could be understood. This was the first time since the East acquired Lyr that such a catastrophe has happened on the planet.

    The sports field of the university was thick with people, some students and some teachers. The class leaders stood in front of their groups. 1

    In this critical time all students, good or bad, stood calm and collected in the face of danger. They did not run or lose their heads, something that could not be said for the routed masses outside the university walls. Those same walls bristled with defensive installations to protect from alien incursion.

    As a military school they were stocked in the full gamut of traditional gear, except for weaponry. Those were provided on a temporary basis by the army. The teachers and students all had some level of combat experience, so in a time of crisis they became reinforcements. All of a sudden they found themselves on the front lines, but it also meant no one was coming to save them. Hold and retreat when able, that was their only option.

    "Dean, all of our instructions are willing to stay behind. They want to live or die with their students." The clear, strong voice came from a gallant-looking instructor. It was none other than the Bookworm's disciple, Su He!

    After Su He's break he'd returned to the university as a teacher. His transformation from haughty adjunct to calm professor was clear to everyone. He had Lan Jue to thank for that, as well as the Bookworm's teachings.

    Han Ruchao's burning eyes fixed upon Su He. He was the school's best mecha pilot, and a ninth level Talent. His determination was like a shot of adrenaline.

    "I'm staying, too!" From among the students, one of them shot their hand high up in the air.

    The Dean had hid nothing from his charges, they all knew only six thousand people could leave at a time. The rest would have to hold on for the next round. When that was, though, no one knew. The closest planet was still a ways away.

    The student who raised their hand was one of the few who'd attended the sparring competition at the NEU, Xiao Han. He was much more composed now than he had been. The loss he'd suffered didn't break him, instead it served as motivation to get better. Over the last year his progress had been phenomenal, under the tutelage of Su He.

    "And me!" Several more hands joined his, lifted high as desperate enthusiasm swept through the crowd. Lyr's training field was abuzz with anticipation.

    As he looked at their eager faces, the passion in their eyes, tears blurred Han Ruchao's vision. For many years he had been Dean of this school, giving his energy toward its progress. He knew he had his problems - he was arrogant, headstrong, prideful, and most importantly he wanted to win. But today, that pride was warranted. That pride made him stand tall.

    Despite his shortcoming he had molded students who did not back down in the face of death. Dauntless they thrust their hands toward the sky, ready to defend their school to their final breath.

    Nor was it just students from the mecha department putting their lives on the line. Airship trainees and support department students were just as fervent in their desire to fight. None of them wanted their companions to see them as cowards. Their blood boiled for the chance to prove their worth.

    Han Ruchao's voice quavered with emotion as it passed through the microphone in front of him. "Thank you... thank you all. You should all be proud of how you were raised. Children. You bring glory to the school. I have spent my life in pursuit of making quality members of society, and today I see it was all worth it. No matter how strong or how fierce these creatures are, as your Dean I swear to be the last one to leave. Now, I want you all to listen closely to our plan. Students from the mecha department will suit up, find a weapon and get ready for battle. Class leaders will arrange you into squads and prepare you to face the enemy. Airship pilots, those from the mecha maintenance department, female students and female teachers will evacuate. That's an order. Teachers, make sure it gets done." 2

    "In times of crisis we need order. Soldiers, toe the line! Execute!" The Dean's powerful voice thundered across the field. IT curtailed the dangerous levels of excitement agitating the students.

    Su He stood nearby, silently nodding his head. When it was needed Han Ruchao kept level-headed, despite his own passions. His orders were simple and to the point. These children were the future of Lyr, of the university. Until the ship returned they had to get to safety.

    Students from the mecha department raced for the mecha warehouse where the suits were stored. They were training suits but they were better than nothing. At least with the weapons provided by the army they could fight back.

    As the largest university on Lyr they were stocked with over a thousand mecha suits. As training mechas their cockpits were also designed to fit two pilots - a teacher and student. That was enough for two thousand, while the remainder took up overwatch positions along the perimeter walls. This would at least give them a defensive position as they fought the aliens.

    Han Ruchao's breath was quick, his heart raced. He had never been in a situation like this before, but as a learned man he was clear-headed enough to manage the crisis. He was the backbone of this effort, and could not break. If he did, they were lost.

    They had lost communication with the outside world, and getting word from anywhere was almost impossible. The Dean couldn't know if or when the military would come to their aid. In the last correspondence, all he'd learned was the aliens were fierce, and weren't stopping.

    Just then, an explosion shook the university walls. A plume of smoke arose in the distance.

    Han Ruchao narrowed his eyes. It was coming from the front lines. Did the enemy already break through?

    "Quickly! Get those transport ships off the ground, quick as you can! Professor Su He... where is Professor Su He?" He shouted into his communicator, using it as a walky-talky.

    Su He's calm voice replied. "I'm on the field. I'll be there in a moment.

    A few moments later a mecha descended from overhead with Su He at the controls.

    "Professor, I need you to scout out the situation outside. If the aliens have broken through, I want you to coordinate our defense." Han Ruchao knew he wasn't a military commander. Having Su He assume control would serve better.

    Su He's voice was low and solemn. "I already went to look. They've broken through the perimeter line outside of the city. They're pouring through the streets. We need to prepare to hold them. The military has started to move evacuees toward us."

    Han Ruchao felt his heart skip a beat. Suddenly his school was the most well-defended location on Lyr. It made sense to bring the vulnerable here. However that made keeping order worrying. With enemies at the gates, the situation was deteriorating rapidly.

    "What are your suggestions, professor?" He asked.

    "If the situation comes to it, we hold," he replied. "We can't break, no matter what. The moment they get through we're done for. Please give the order for everyone to follow my lead. I'll do everything in my power to protect the university."

    "Very well. Everyone will listen for your commands, myself included." Han Ruchao answered without hesitation.

    Su He burst into action. He knew more about military matters than the dean, and as a god-ranked pilot his reputation was second to none. The best scoring students in the school were his personal charges. Under his direction they quickly formed a defensive line; laser rifles to punish the creatures from afar, and mecha units as support. Other defenses were established along the walls as back-up.

    They watched civilians swarm their way from the ravaged city. The university doors were left half-open so they could be closed again quickly. Six classes - over three hundred students, including fifty mechas - ushered the civilians inside. They were put in classrooms or out in the field, wherever they could fit. With the addition of city police, they managed to keep order.

    1. In China classes are organized differently than in the US, for instance. Students remain in the same class and teachers rotate out. Each class has a 'head teacher' which can be a teacher of any subject, who is responsible for the overall discipline and performance of their class.

    2. Honestly I don't know why he singled out women. Women and girls undergo the same mandatory military training as boys when they're in middle school and high school, presumably for reasons such as this. Well, not aliens, per se, but you know.
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