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Chapter 668: Admiral Kang Hui

    Chapter 668: Admiral Kang Hui

    The Wine Master looked at Lan Jue. "Jewelry Master, bring the council up to speed on the North's battle plans."

    He nodded. "All told the North has seven Bastion ships, and are in the process of constructing three more. Right now they've sent three of those and five interstellar fleets - a third of their combined military might - to the Shattered Starfields. Their aim is to sweep through the area and clear it of the enemy presence. Although the Starfields are dangerous and complicated, they plan to rely on the firepower from the Bastion and warships to clear a path. But what they really need is to find out where those planets are hiding. Our responsibility will be to deliver that information. I will be going with the Wine Master, Epochrion, Gourmet, Pauper, Pharmacist, and Driver. Our primary role will be scouting and support. Our goals are in line with the North; take the fight to the creatures instead of waiting for them to turn our worlds into battlefields.

    "Star Division will remain behind under the command of Chief Officer Su Xiaosu. If any aliens should appear in Eastern territory, her orders are to dispatch Star Division immediately and repel the invaders. In preparation for this Majesty has had its engines upgraded so we can respond as quickly as possible. Our Eastern military also has measures in place for early warning. Their Bastions have been moved inward toward the center of our territory - specifically near Skyfire, and Taihua. They're on standby, ready to react at a moment's notice.

    The Wine Master nodded. "We have no time to lose. The Keeper and Bookworm will remain here and handle the Avenue's dealings."

    It was decided. Most of the Avenue's strongest would go out as a guerilla scout force, but Star Division would remain behind.

    As for the West, one of their two Bastions was under the auspices of Gobi Entertainment's new Poseidon Corps. Two others were under construction and would be battle-ready soon.

    War was on the horizon!

    ζ

    Tyrannosaurus-class Bastion.

    Admiral Kang Hui stared at the starmap flickering on his screen. His face was stained with a dark glower.

    The Bastion's commander had once been an Easterner. His parents had immigrated to Luo when he was very young. Even at five years old he'd shown great talent, so they enrolled him in a military school even before he could count. 1 He continued to wow his instructors will his martial brilliance, and at the age of sixteen he graduated and joined the military.

    Over the next twenty years he climbed the chain of command, beginning from the bottom as a private and eventually making his way to an admiralship. From there he continued to make his mark on military leadership. Now, at only forty-five, he was one of the ten top commanders of the Northern military, and was commander of the intimidating Tyrannosaurus-class Bastion ship.

    He'd been entrusted with leading the North's military branches into battle against the alien foes. The other bastions guarding the Starfields' borders were also under his command. This was the same for the five interstellar fleets making up his entourage. He was the head of the beast.

    Of course, the head always had a neck telling it where to point.

    The North had no option but to mobilize in such force and respond to the alien attack. The destruction of the planet - Xitu - had terrified and enraged everyone. Politicians relied on and were beholden to their constituents, who were furious at their failure. Many planets were the backdrop for demonstrations chastising the government for their failure.

    Fearing a revolution, the Northern government had to act. On the other hand, the aliens had shown them the scope of their terrible power. In the end the leadership designed this campaign. But it also had an underlying purpose, to capture more vital crystals.

    Everything humanity knew about these aliens, every recorded encounter was locked in Kang Hui's memory, burned into his mind. Still he was anxious at how little they knew. The enemy we don't know is the hardest to fight.

    The videos he'd studied the most was the fall of the Seventh Fleet. He saw how the aliens fought without fear of death, resistant to the weapons man was so proud of. He watched as an alien drank up the blast from a Capital ship like a sip of water. Surely there was a limit to their defenses, but where was the line?

    Bastion ships were the pinnacle of humanity's technology, an earth-shattering weapon of mass destruction. If they were found to be ineffective, mankind's troubles were beyond reckoning. If that were the case then they were truly facing an extinction-level event. No matter what they had to strike back as hard as they could, right now.

    "Reporting, sir!" A captain loudly called from outside the door.

    "Enter." He said.

    The officer quickly walked to his side. "Admiral, First Fleet has reached its prescribed location. They're prepared to clear the way."

    "Good." Kang Hui nodded. If they wanted to strike at the heart of the alien menace they would have to open a path. They would use the overwhelming firepower of their fleet to carve a route.

    However, utilizing this method was costly. It would require a lot of firepower and hardy defense to make their way inside. Both drained significant amounts of energy. There weren't going to be any resupply depots where they were going, so they only had each other to rely on. It wasn't as simple as dredging a path, and their exit vanished as they asteroid fields moved through space. That meant they needed enough energy to get back home, too. One could imagine how demanding this was.

    There was a reason the Shattered Starfields had been left to pirates, and they knew it. The cost of entering the Starfields to face the pirates outweighed the benefits. However, this time things were different. There was no greater threat to the safety of humankind than these alien invaders. What's more, the future of humanity lay in the vital crystals borne by this foe. Both politically and from a resources standpoint, this campaign needed to occur.

    Kang Hui had recommended the West and East join them for the strike, it just made sense to face the enemy with the combined might of humanity. However the Northern senate vetoed the request. Despite the official response that the North was capable of handling the problem itself, Kang Hui knew their decision was born from greed. They didn't want to share the spoils of war.

    The Eastern auction had been a terrible blow to the pride of the other Alliances. After all, in one day they had acquired enough ships to build a whole fleet! But the crystals they'd acquired were promised to give rise to more Paragons, not to mention insights into the exuvium process.

    The benefits of those crystals was a significant reason in the quick military response. The North had been ready for a fight for the last six months, with all their troops mustered and their ships ready. Now they were headed for the heart of the enemy.

    "Admiral, shall we have them open a path?"

    He responded by waving his hand. "Hold their ground and await further orders. Has the Eastern scouting party arrived?"

    A staff officer broke in. "They should be here in three hours."

    Kang Hui responded. "When they do have their commander get in contact."

    "Aye aye!"

    If not for Kang Hui's insistence they would have had no outside help. However Kang Hui's merits as a leader spoke volumes, and he knew the worth of combat intelligence. For such a small squad to learn so much, this mysterious Eastern scouting party had to be something special. If they really could do what they claimed, their addition to this campaign would be invaluable.

    Entering the Starfields was a desperate and costly endeavor. If the information from the East was true and these planets could teleport, what would they do if they went in and their target was already gone? Not only did they leave their homeland largely undefended, but the cost of a failed campaign would be staggering. They absolutely had to learn all they could.

    On the other hand, Kang Hui was a military man. He was too smart to believe everything these Easterners told him. He had his own scouts to dispatch as well. Over the last day they had tirelessly worked to perfect their battle plan. However none of it could be put into effect until they had more concrete information.

    Kang Hui stood up and walked forward. One wall of his office was composed of transparent metal alloy as clear as glass. He looked out over the beautiful expanse of space. He had spent over a third of his life out here, and it had left him with a deep affinity for the cosmos.

    It had also blessed him with an intuition that bordered on supernatural. All of his responsibilities weighed on him, but also sharpened his mind and inspired his battle fervor. No matter what, he had been entrusted with the safety of the North - of all humanity - and he was going to do his job.

    ζ

    Zeus-1 glided behind a guide ship, leading them to the imposing Tyrannosaurus-class Bastion ship ahead. Lan Jue had seen these monstrous war machines before, but had never gotten close.

    As he watched the ship come closer, he was filled with a deep esteem. This was a symbol of humanity's greatness! From a distance it was hard to tell it apart from a planet.

    In fact, a lot was similar to a planet during the construction of these ships. The hearts of them were very much like the cores of planets in many ways. They even had their own gravity, comparable to one-third what it had been on Earth.

    They were all very well equipped to boot. The living quarters were virtually indistinguishable from a city on a planet's surface. Of course their greatest capabilities were in combat. Not typical combat, certainly, for their size made them the ultimate force for destruction. Their weapon systems numbered in the tens of thousands. Be it defense, main guns, secondary weaponry or even its gravitation field, a Bastion ship was built to deliver death.

    1. It is certainly not uncommon for Chinese parents to enroll their children in all manner of pursuits even before they're able to pay attention to their surroundings. English and various instruments are the favorite. I had students as young as six months old. Often what extra-curricular they choose is based on perceived talent (or arbitrary nonsense, I guess it depends). For example, even though my wife wanted to learn to play piano she was vociferously discouraged. They claimed her fingers were too small.
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